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Pennsylvania: Special ed students can stay in school until age 22; one year extension

Aug 31, 2023, Philadelphia Inquirer: Pa. is changing its special-ed rules: Students with disabilities can now attend school until age 22

Federal law obligates public schools to educate students with disabilities until they earn a regular diploma or turn 22, but Pennsylvania had been forcing students to graduate at the end of the school year they turn 21.

In July, lawyers working on behalf of a Lower Merion student with multiple disabilities, identified only as A.P. in legal documents, asked a federal judge to step in to stop the practice, and to grant class-action status.

The state and lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center and Berney & Sang announced the action, which settles the lawsuit, following on the heels of similar changes in Connecticut, Hawaii and Rhode Island.

Effective no later than Sept. 5, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is excising its old policy and adopting a new one, which will not only shift the age to 22, but also allow students who were “improperly exited” in June to reenroll for this school year.

The state will notify about 1,300 families whose children graduated at age 21 this year.


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