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Official Memorandum Updated May 15, 2009

Letter Head: Jack O'Connell, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Phone number 916-319-0800

Date: May 15, 2009

Dear County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and High School Principals:

Algebra I (Or Its Equivalent) Graduation Requirement For Students With Disabilities

The statute requiring students to complete a course in Algebra I (or its equivalent) prior to receiving a diploma of graduation from high school is in effect for all students in the class of 2005 and beyond [California Education Code (EC) 51224.5], including students with disabilities. A student must pass an Algebra I (or its equivalent) course that meets the content standards adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE) in order to receive a high school diploma.

State statute governs the minimum requirements for earning a high school diploma. A course in Algebra I (or its equivalent) is one of the state’s requirements. Local boards of education may not waive state law. The Individualized Education Programs (IEP) does not govern whether the student receives a diploma. The IEP describes the supports and services the district will provide to give students access to the general education curriculum. Districts should review the IEPs of all students to ensure that any student intending to graduate with a diploma is enrolled in Algebra I (or its equivalent).

A district or county office of education governing board or a Special Education Local Plan Area has a right to file an EC 56101 waiver on a specific waiver form for individual students with the SBE. However, please recognize that the review and approval of these waivers will be stringent. Forms and and additional information are available from the Waiver Office [].

Your diligence in ensuring that all students have access to the general education curriculum is critical. Should you need further information regarding Algebra I (or its equivalent) graduation requirements for students with disabilities, go to the Algebra I Graduation Requirement [] Web page or contact Theresa Costa Johansen, Education Administrator I, Policy and Program Services Unit, by phone at 916-445-4891 or by e-mail at For questions on the waiver process or completing the required forms, contact the Waiver Office at or 916-319-0824. (Updated 24-Feb-2016).


Original signed by Mary Hudler. Hard copy of signed document is available by contacting the Assessment, Evaluation and Support Unit at 916-445-4628.

Mary Hudler
Director, Special Education

Last Reviewed: Monday, February 29, 2016

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