Foster Care
Youth Justice

Expanding Access to Diplomas for Highly Mobile Students (2021 & 2022)

SB 532 (Caballero)

SB 532 offers additional opportunities to achieve a high school diploma for youth experiencing homelessness, youth in foster care, students under juvenile court, youth of military families, and migrant youth.

A lack of economic and housing security is extraordinarily detrimental to a students’ success in school and homeless youth are much less likely to complete high school, compared with those without homeless experiences.

Research shows that these highly mobile students experience chronic absenteeism, higher than average discipline, and lower educational achievements. The COVID-19 pandemic and distance learning has exacerbated school engagement and learning disparities for these students. Students that do not achieve a high school diploma are at greater risk for negative life outcomes such as health disparities, lower employment earnings, homelessness, and justice involvement.

Current California law requires school districts, county offices of education and charters schools to assess and determine eligibility for specific educational rights for youth experiencing homelessness, youth in foster care, students under juvenile court, youth of a military families, and migrant and newcomer youth. These rights include access to a fifth year of high school and the ability to receive a waiver from local school district diploma requirements that are in addition to the coursework requirements for a diploma. 

SB 532 builds bridges to a high school diploma and post-secondary educational success for highly mobile students by ensuring that they can access a pathway to graduation by: 

  • Ensuring that students who are eligible to remain in school for a fifth year can remain in their school of origin, consistent with federal law, to either complete the local educational graduation requirements or the statewide graduation requirements.
  • Allowing districts to determine a student’s year in school by comparing the student’s age to the average age of students in their third or fourth year.
  • Requiring schools to evaluate student eligibility for an exemption within 30 days of a new school year following a school move, and offer the exemption to students if they are unable to meet the district requirements at the end of their fourth year.
  • Applies the exemption from district diploma requirements that are in addition to statewide diploma requirements to eligible students enrolled in adult education regardless of their age as well as adult education students who were eligible for the exemption while in high school.
  • Recognizing the ability of unaccompanied homeless youth to act as their own educational decision-makers for purposes of E.C. 51225.1, in alignment with the federal McKinney-Vento Act.
  • Establishes requirements for LEA’s to report annually the number of pupils that graduate with an exemption from LEA coursework requirements, for 4 year and 5 year graduation cohorts and disaggregate the data by pupil student group.

NCYL is partnering with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, and SchoolHouse Connection. 

Author: Sen. Caballero

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