Legislation passed today by the Senate would allow school districts to issue a diploma for a student who has earned 75 percent of the credits needed to graduate but dies after completing the 11th grade.

“This is a simple way to recognize a student’s academic achievement on behalf of a family that is suffering a tragic loss,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), the bill’s sponsor. “This can help a family find some solace and closure if they lose a child tragically early.”

For a student who is fighting a terminal illness, Wilson added, the promise of diploma might provide comfort in the face of death or even an uplifting goal on which to focus during a time of little hope.

Senate Bill 6092 — named Evitan’s Law after a deceased student whose family suggested the legislation — requires school districts to award such diplomas if requested by the student’s family, provided the student had completed the 11th grade and was meeting requirements for graduation. The diploma may not be issued before the graduation date of the student’s class, and districts are not required to award the diploma at the same ceremony or event as other students.

“As a former school board director, I often had sad conversations with families who lost children prior to graduating and crossing that stage, which we know is a milestone for many young people and their families,” said Wilson, vice chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. “When a young student suffers an untimely death, families are often left wondering how they can celebrate and remember their loved one.”

Having passed on a 47-1 vote, SB 6092 now goes to the House for consideration.