Changes Pending Regarding Special Education Diploma Options

Diploma options for children with special needs are changing, and you have an opportunity to weigh in on how those changes unfold.

Parents and teachers of students with special needs can submit comments to the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) by August 31 on its plan to change the diploma options available to students with disabilities.

Legislation passed in the 2017 Legislative Session states, “The special Mississippi Occupational Diploma for students with disabilities shall not be available to any student entering the Ninth Grade in the 2017-2018 school year or thereafter, pending State Board of Education approval of new graduation options.”

The State Board of Education has not yet approved the new graduation options and will likely take up the issue at its September 14 meeting, when the MDE will present its final recommendation along with feedback received during the public comment period.

The MDE is proposing that the approximately 1 percent of students who have a significant cognitive disability be provided an alternate diploma option, with all other students with disabilities being eligible for a traditional diploma (with or without additional endorsements) or a certificate of attendance. See further explanation of diploma options.

Public comments about the proposed changes are being accepted by the MDE and must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on August 31. Submit comments by mail to Dr. Jo Ann Malone, Office of Accreditation, P.O. Box 771, Jackson, MS 39205-0771, by email to, or by fax to 601-359-1979.

Please don’t miss this opportunity to share your thoughts on this very important matter.

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