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Kids in Prison: Getting Tried as an Adult Depends on Skin Color

by WNYC | 3.27.18

Jun 22, 2017 · by Sarah Gonzalez

Darian Glisson has an IEP, an Individualized Education Program.

“That’s for people who have a different learning process where they maybe don’t learn as fast as other people,” he said. “But then again slow learners aren’t the worst learners.”

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Darian, 19, is earning a Local Diploma. It’s an option for students who can’t get above a score of 65 on all their regents exams, but can get above at least a 45.

Glisson got a 65 on his math Regents exam and a high score of 76 on his living environment Regents. But he scored a 62 on his English and Language Arts exam, making him 3 points shy of earning the standard Regents Diploma.

“Honestly, I don’t know if I should feel a little insulted maybe because the word ‘local,’” he said. “Like it’s an average diploma, it doesn’t mean anything.”

But it does mean something. It's a real diploma.

Students who score below the lowest cut-off score, including students with special needs, get a certificate that is not counted as a diploma. It's called a CDOS, a Career Development and Occupational Studies Commencement Credential. It allows students to walk across their high stage in a cap and gown, but it’s not a ticket out of high school. Students can’t apply to college with it or enlist in the military.

Because Glisson scored high enough, he's getting a high school diploma recognized by colleges and the military. And when he puts on his purple cap and gown and walks across the stage at Lyons Community School it will be his first graduation ceremony. Ever.

“I never gone to my middle school or preschool graduations,” Glisson said. “Or proms either. I just didn’t want to go.”

He said he’ll do it this year, in part, for his teachers who he considers good friends.

“I always told myself that one graduation or prom is not going to kill you.”

There are three different categories of high school diplomas offered to graduating students in New York State: a regular diploma called the Regents, the Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, and the Local Diploma, which is an option for some students with disabilities.

Meet a South Bronx student earning the top diploma here. And a student earning a standard diploma here.

WNYC

Written by WNYC

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