When a homeschooled teen in Long Island finished high school at 17, he and his parents determined that the best way to pursue his new goals was to get his New York High School Equivalency Diploma by taking the General Educational Development (GED®) test.

This otherwise straightforward decision soon foundered due to obstacles raised by local public school officials.

New York requires anyone under the age of 19 who wishes to take the GED exam to have an age-eligibility form signed by an authorized person. While there are a few different types of people who are authorized to sign this form, most of the time it needs to be signed by an official from the local school district.

Permission Denied

However, when our member family contacted their school district requesting that the form be signed, the assistant superintendent refused because the family’s student was still eligible to attend school.

While it’s true that most youth stay in high school through age 18, at HSLDA we believe students and parents should be empowered to choose the educational path that best suits their particular situation. Some parents may award a diploma to students before they reach the typical age for this honor if they complete high school requirements early. For example, students quite often enroll in a college dual enrollment program or enter an apprenticeship before the age of 18.

In New York, as in all states, parents may issue diplomas certifying that their students have completed a high school education. And it is our position that parent-issued diplomas constitute bona fide credentials sufficient to fulfill requirements for any post-high school pursuit, including college, jobs, and the military.

In this case, however, the teen had determined that a substitute for a parent-issued diploma worked best for his situation—a decision that local officials should have honored.

Closer Look at the Law

Confused and upset that their son was being denied his ability to take the GED, our member family contacted HSLDA for help.

After collecting some information from the family, I contacted the assistant superintendent to discuss the reason for denying the young man’s request to take the GED. I pointed out that New York provides several exceptions for students as young as 16 to take the GED if they so desire. I explained that at least two of these exceptions applied to this young man.

First, he had been homeschooled in compliance with New York law until he was no longer compulsory school age. While the school official took issue with the fact that the parents were no longer sending reports about their son’s homeschool program, I reminded her that the young man was no longer required to attend school at all.

I also reminded the school official that since the young man had not attended a regular full-time high school program in over a year that he would also qualify under that exception.

After I pointed out all this information, the assistant superintendent changed her mind and agreed to sign the form.

I contacted our member family to let them know that the situation was resolved and to ensure their form was signed. I was happy to help this young man take the next step in his educational journey in a way worked best for him.