OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Stalled budget negotiations could prevent hundreds of high school seniors in Washington from graduating.
Under current state law, students who do not pass any of the statewide tests for biology, English or math cannot graduate.
“I won’t be able to go to college like I want in the fall,” said Timberline High School Senior LaTonya Nicholson.
She failed the math test. Nicholson said since she passed the required courses, she should be allowed to graduate with her friends.
“I mean, why isn’t that enough?” said Nicholson.
Bills to eliminate one or all of those tests as graduation requirements passed out of either the House or Senate during the regular legislative session, but they are now stalled at the Capitol.
On Monday, lawmakers began a special session to give them more time to balance the budget.
Representative Drew MacEwen, a Republican from Mason County, had a bill to eliminate all of the tests from the list of graduation requirements. It passed out of the House with bipartisan support and awaits action in the Senate.
Senator Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, has proposed delaying or eliminating the biology test from the list. His bill to delay that requirement passed out of the Senate. He said MacEwen’s bill goes too far, but said it’s still up for discussion.
Eliminating one or all of the tests would have an impact on the state’s budget, so the bills are part of the budget negotiations.
Even though he knows not everyone supports his idea, MacEwen said he likes his bill’s chances.
“I’m confident we’ll have significant pressure to be able to make it part of the final deal,” said MacEwen.
Whether that deal is reached before graduation dates in June is unclear, giving students like Nicholson a lesson in political science.
“It sucks,” said Nicholson.