RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A new law in Virginia could allow families to be awarded a posthumous diploma for their late student.
Delegate Dawn Adams (D-Richmond) introduced a measure allowing high school seniors who’ve died before their graduation to still receive a diploma.
The bill was signed into law this year, requiring the Board of Education to waive certain graduation requirements when it takes effect on July 1. The new law will allow parents to request a posthumous diploma if the student was in good standing before graduation.
Nicholas Coleman would have graduated with the class of 2022 at Prince George High School.
He wanted to attend Harvard University and major in science, Sydney Jones, Coleman’s girlfriend, said.
Coleman’s dreams were cut short when he died from cancer in 2021, right before the start of his senior year. Jones said she pushed school leaders to honor him at graduation.
“They decided to do a chair and a yearbook, and a cap and gown in remembrance of Nicholas with a rose,” Jones told 8News. “But they never gave a diploma. We all know it should’ve been a diploma in that chair for him.”
According to state code, late high school students in Virginia can be awarded a diploma if the Board of Education initiates it or if it’s requested by a local school board.
Under the new law, awarding posthumous diplomas will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
“They had to make a law for it. It’s kind of sad that they had to do that, but I’m glad they did it because it needs to be done,” Jones said. “It feels good to know that families don’t have to fight like I did.”