The Basis for Granting a Diploma Sudbury
The Sudbury Valley School awards a diploma to students who can justify the following proposition to the satisfaction of the Diploma Committee: “My experiences during my stay at school have enabled me to develop the problem-solving skills, the adaptability, and the abilities needed to function independently in the world that I am about to enter.”
Students Eligible for a Diploma
Students must be enrolled for at least three full years before they may be granted their diploma. The three years need not be continuous, but all must be within four years of the date of the announcement of the intent to seek a diploma. Initial enrollment by October 15, or enrollment immediately following a visiting week that commences by October 15, shall be considered enrollment for the entire school year.
A candidate whose tuition for the school year is not fully paid by April 30. and whose other debts to the school are not fully paid by that time, shall not be eligible for consideration for a diploma that school year. If the tuition for that school year is paid by June 30, and the candidate has fulfilled all the other requirements by April 30, then the candidate shall be eligible for consideration for a diploma during the next school year without requiring him/her to re-enroll.
The Diploma Committee
The Diploma Committee judges which students may be awarded a diploma by the school.
The Diploma Committee consists of three members, chosen by the Records Clerk; they must be staff members or former staff members who have served for at least two years at schools similar to Sudbury Valley, that have been in existence for at least five years. They may also be Sudbury Valley School alumni who have graduated at least ten years ago.
During the last part of May, the Diploma Committee meets for as many days as it requires to interview all the candidates.
The Records clerk shall arrange the specific dates. The Records Clerk will provide the Diploma Committee with guidelines concerning any limitations on questioning involving legal privacy issues.
Travel expenses, hotel expenses, and meals are furnished to the Diploma Committee by Sudbury Valley School. There will also be a stipend of $500 for the school which releases a staff member to come during those days, or to a Sudbury school designated by a former staff member.
Instructions to the Candidate and the Records Clerk
A candidate for a diploma must announce his or her intention to seek a diploma to the School Meeting Records Clerk, in writing, by April 30. Any material the candidate wishes the Diploma Committee to have at the time of the interview must be delivered to the Records Clerk no later than April 30.
The names of the candidates to be interviewed, and any supplemental materials, are sent (overnight) to the Diploma Committee members. In addition, the Judicial Records of each candidate for the last two years of enrollment, and the attendance record for those years, are included.
The Records Clerk informs each candidate which day his/her meeting with the Diploma Committee will be. The candidate arranges to be available on that day from 8:30AM until his/her meeting with the Diploma Committee is completed.
If, due to force majeur, a candidate who has fulfilled all the requirements in a timely manner, becomes unable to meet with the Diploma Committee, the Committee may decide to either grant a diploma without an in-person oral interview, or permit him/her to appear for an oral interview during the next school year without re-enrollment.
At the end of its deliberations on all candidates, the Diploma Committee submits its decisions to the Records Clerk, who informs the candidates and posts the results.
Instructions to the Diploma Committee
The Diploma Committee is encouraged to examine closely the experiences cited by the candidate for their relevance to the proposition the candidate is seeking to justify.
In the event that the Diploma Committee wishes to verify the truth of some factual statements made by the candidate about experiences at school, the Committee may pose written queries to the Records Clerk, who will promptly respond in writing to the Committee. No queries or replies involving judgment shall be made by the Committee or the Clerk.
Members of the Diploma Committee shall agree not to discuss any of the candidates with any member of the school community until after the completion of their work.
Policies regarding the Candidate’s interview with the Diploma Committee
During the interview with the Committee, or in materials submitted by a Candidate to the Committee, a Candidate may wish to raise personal circumstances which bear on his/her candidacy for a diploma, including matters that may be of a confidential or sensitive nature. While the Committee welcomes any information which a Candidate believes is relevant to his/her candidacy, a Candidate should be aware that if s/he raises such circumstances, the Committee may find it necessary or appropriate to inquire further into them with the Candidate, and that by raising these matters before the Committee the student agrees that the Committee may make such inquiries of him/her.
For Candidates who have not reached the age of majority, please note the following: If the Candidate wishes to raise such matters with the Diploma Committee, s/he must so inform the Records Clerk no later than April 30, and the Records Clerk will contact the Candidate’s parents/guardians informing them of this wish. If the parents/guardians wish to limit such discussions, they must inform the Records Clerk in writing no later than May 5. The Diploma Committee will be informed by the Records Clerk that the Candidate wishes to raise these issues, and of any limitations imposed by the parents/guardians. In the absence of advance notice, the Diploma Committee will disregard any such matters raised by the Candidate and refrain from pursuing inquiries about them.
After the Diploma Committee
If, during the period between the decisions of the Diploma Committee and the end of the school year, a candidate voted a diploma by the Diploma Committee has been found guilty of an offense, or any activity, which, in the opinion of the School Meeting, warrants reconsideration of the award of a diploma; then, up until the last day of school during the school year, the School Meeting may vote to withhold the award of a diploma until the next annual Corporation meeting. In that case, at that meeting, the Corporation shall vote (by majority vote) whether to award the diploma voted previously by the Diploma Committee.
If the Diploma Committee has judged that a student should not be awarded a diploma, then, within a week of that denial, that student may appeal the denial, in writing, to the Records Clerk. The appeal may be made only on the grounds of alleged procedural error, which must be spelled out in detail in the appeal. The appeal shall be submitted to the Ombudsman and the Official Authorities Clerk, to review and to decide whether to reverse the denial. They will each write separate opinions. They must respond within one week of receiving the appeal. If both agree the appeal has merit, the candidate will be notified, and awarded a Diploma (under the same conditions as other successful candidates).
If both the Ombudsman and the Official Authorities Clerk find the appeal baseless, or if the Ombudsman or the Official Authorities Clerk do not reach the same conclusions, the appeal and the responses will be forwarded to the school’s counsel – or some other legal counsel designated by the school’s legal counsel in a particular matter – whose decision, presented to the Records Clerk in writing, will be final. If counsel concludes the appeal is justified, the appellant will be notified, and awarded a Diploma (under the same conditions as other candidates).
At the end of the school year, a student voted a diploma by the Diploma Committee who has not had his/her diploma withheld by the School Meeting, or a student denied a diploma by the Diploma Committee who has had that denial reversed on appeal, is awarded a diploma by the school.
As soon as possible after the final day of the school year, the Records Clerk issues a Sudbury Valley School diploma, signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the School Meeting, to those students who have been awarded a diploma.