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AFC Urges DOE to Follow NYSED Guidance and Extend Eligibility to Students at Risk of Aging Out

04.15.2021 | Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement in response to new State guidance strongly encouraging school districts to provide over-age high school students the opportunity to return to school next year to finish meeting requirements for a high school diploma, diploma endorsement or exit credential: 

Advocates for Children commends the Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) for urging school districts to allow 21-year-old students to return for the 2021-22 school year to finish high school. This year has been incredibly difficult for students and families. The guidance released this week is an important step towards ensuring that no student loses the chance to graduate or to prepare for post-secondary opportunities because of COVID-19. 

We strongly urge the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and districts across New York State to act quickly to follow NYSED’s recommendation, get the word out to students and their families, and provide all students who are on the verge of aging out without a diploma the chance to finish their education and prepare for life after high school.  

Last year, NYSED issued similar guidance for students who turned 21 during the 2019-20 school year.  However, citing funding shortages, many districts denied students the option of returning to school this year. While New York City allowed most 21-year-old students to return to school for the 2020-21 school year, the City left out some of the students with the most intensive needs by not funding the continued enrollment of students with significant disabilities placed by the DOE at state-approved non-public schools. In light of both unprecedented school interruptions due to the pandemic and massive increases in State and Federal funding for education approved recently, all districts should extend school eligibility to all over-age students who need it.

View the press release [PDF]