Diplomas for Eligible Veterans

To:Superintendents of Schools and School Committee Chairs, Veterans’ Groups and Other Interested Parties
From:David P. Driscoll, Commissioner of Education and
Thomas Kelley, Secretary, Veterans' Services
Date:May 31, 2006

Last November, Governor Romney signed into law Chapter 130 of the Acts of 2005, "An Act Providing Benefits to Service Members, Veterans and Their Families." One of the provisions allows certain Massachusetts war veterans who withdrew from high school permanently to serve as a member of the armed forces in World War II, the Korean Conflict, or Vietnam and who did not receive high school diplomas to be awarded high school diplomas (see text of law below).

Veterans of these wars who live in Massachusetts and attended your high schools but did not receive diplomas and were honorably discharged should be informed that they may contact the superintendent of schools of the city or town where the veterans last attended high school and request a diploma from the school committee. We encourage you to notify your local veterans' organizations and residents of your community about this opportunity.

Below is the provision of Section 4 of Chapter 71 of the Massachusetts General Laws that specifically authorizes school committees to award diplomas to veterans of certain wars.

Section 4 of Chapter 71 of the Massachusetts General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following 2 paragraphs:

Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, school committees may award diplomas to any World War II veteran, Korean War veteran or Vietnam War veteran who is a resident of the commonwealth, who attended the high school maintained by the school committee, who withdrew from secondary school before graduation in order to serve in the armed forces of the United States, who did not receive a high school diploma as a consequence of that service, and who was honorably discharged from the armed services. The department of education and the department of veterans' services shall jointly promulgate guidelines for the identification of eligible veterans by school districts and for the awarding of the diplomas by school committees.

Family members of deceased veterans, who otherwise are eligible to apply for the diplomas, may apply for a diploma for the veteran posthumously under the same guidelines set forth by the department of education and department of veterans' services.

This advisory constitutes the "joint guidelines" issued by the Department of Education and the Department of Veterans' Services on this subject. We encourage school officials to work with local veterans' organizations and to address individual cases in accordance with this advisory and with the school district's policies and practices. If you have questions about the Massachusetts law on diplomas for eligible veterans, please contact Jan O'Keefe at the Department of Education at jokeefe@doe.mass.edu or Gail Eldridge at the Department of Veterans' Services at 671-210-5782.

Last Updated: May 31, 2006

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