New Laws Grant Diplomas To Terminally Ill And Students That Have Departed California

Lozano Smith Client News Brief
January 2019
Number 3

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a pair of laws related to granting honorary or retroactive high school diplomas for particular groups of students. Assembly Bill (AB) 2109 authorizes the granting of honorary diplomas to students who are terminally ill and, AB 3022 authorizes the retroactive granting of high school diplomas to students who have departed California against their will.

AB 2109: Diplomas for Terminally Ill Students

Existing law allows the granting of honorary high school diplomas to foreign exchange students who have not completed the course of study ordinarily required.

AB 2109 extends this law to allow honorary diplomas to be granted to students who are terminally ill. A diploma granted under these circumstances must be clearly distinguishable from the regular diploma awarded upon graduation.

AB 3022: Diplomas for Students Forced to Depart California

Existing law authorizes the retroactive granting of high school diplomas to individuals whose education was interrupted due to internment during World War II, and to veterans of World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War, when certain conditions are met.

AB 3022 authorizes retroactive granting of high school diplomas to individuals who have been forced to depart California against their will. Circumstances under which an eligible student may have departed California include being transferred to another state while in custody of a government agency, being ordered to voluntarily depart or be removed by a government agency, including pursuant to federal immigration law, or additional circumstances determined by a school district to be consistent with the purpose of the law.

To meet the criteria, a student must have been enrolled in grade 12 at the time his or her education was interrupted, must have not received a diploma due to that interruption, and must have been in good academic standing at the time of departure. In making the determination regarding academic standing, educational agencies must consider any coursework that may have been completed outside of the United States or through online or virtual courses.


These new laws allow educational agencies to recognize a student's hard work and achievements under specific circumstances where they would ordinarily not be acknowledged. Educational agencies may choose to enact policies or procedures for identifying current or former students who may be eligible for honorary or retroactive diplomas under the new laws.

If you have any questions about these new laws, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney at one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also visit our website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or download our Client News Brief App.
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As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.