• Students displaced by Hurricane Maria able to earn Puerto Rican diploma, officials say

    By: Michael Lopardi

    Updated:

    OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - In a plan proposed by the Florida Department of Education, high school juniors and seniors displaced by Hurricane Maria would be able to pursue a Puerto Rican diploma while attending school in Florida.

    In Osceola County, where thousands of Puerto Rican students have enrolled, school board member Kelvin Soto thought the plan would benefit displaced teens.

    “I believe, for some students, this will be very, very helpful,” he said. “The whole idea of doing whatever we can to get these students to be able to finish their high school diploma is really where it’s at.”

    Unlike Florida students, Puerto Rican students do not have to maintain a minimum GPA or pass state tests in English in order to receive a high school diploma.

    Under the Department of Education plan, Puerto Rican students would have to complete a minimum of 18 credits, 20 hours of occupational experience, such as an internship, and 40 hours of community service.

    Supporters say this option would allow Puerto Rican students to graduate on time, rather than risk being delayed while trying to meet all of the requirements for a Florida diploma.

    “They have plans they go to make,” Soto said. “The future is at stake. They could lose a year as to whether or not they’re going to be enrolling in their college or university.”

    The Department of Education plan would only apply to juniors and seniors who moved to Florida because of Hurricane Maria.

    Students can choose to pursue a Florida diploma, but would have to meet state requirements, officials said.

    Next Up: