Written by: Brian J. DeSantis, Esq.
On the eve of Veteran’s Day, school districts are reminded of a unique law that authorizes boards of education to grant diplomas to the men and women who—due to their service in a time of war—were unable to secure a high school diploma. The law applies to military veterans as well as women who joined the workforce to support their families and/or the war effort.
Under R.C. 3313.616 (Ohio Veterans’ Diploma Program), boards of education may issue a high school diploma to veterans and women who served during the Second World War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War – and who left school before graduating to serve in the armed forces or, in the case of women, who joined the workforce to support their family or the war effort.
Of note, the law permits those who are deceased to earn a diploma posthumously, with the diploma being presented to a living relative. This allows boards of education to honor those who never returned home and those veterans who have passed. Furthermore, the law does not contain residency restrictions. Any board of education may issue a diploma to a covered veteran or woman; school districts are not limited to their former students.
Of particular note, in addition to veterans, the law recognizes the efforts of female war workers often idealized in popular culture as “Rosie the Riveter.” The law permits women to earn a diploma if they left school “to join the workforce to support their family or the war effort.” It also allows women to earn a diploma if they left school “due to family circumstances” and then joined the workforce to support their family or the war effort.
The procedures for applying and verifying eligibility are established in O.A.C. 5902-3-01 (for veterans) and O.A.C. 5902-3-02 (for women). Applications are typically available through county veteran service offices. If your District has any questions about the process, do not hesitate to contact us – and thanks to all those who defended and served our country.