Billings MT: As Daines Fights for Emily Pennington-Upham Needs to Extend Grace-


U.S. Sen. Steve Daines has jumped into the controversy involving a Billings special-needs student, urging the school board to allow 19-year-old Emily Pennington to graduate with her West High class.

Daines, a Montana Republican, said he wrote a letter to the school board after speaking with her mother, Jana Pennington.

Emily Pennington-Student with special needs


“I am writing to request you promptly amend District Policy 2050 for Billings West High School Junior, Ms. Emily Pennington. Parents and trustees alike understand the importance of a high school diploma for the prospects and success of Montana students. I am a steadfast supporter of local control but have been moved to write given the circumstances of this case, and as a matter of principle. Emily should have the opportunity to graduate from Billings West with her classmates, and I respectfully ask the School Board to do everything within your power to make that possible,” Daines wrote.

Pennington, a junior who has Down syndrome, is ineligible to graduate with her class because she is too old, according to Billings School District 2 policy.

While the Montana Legislature passed a bill granting money to schools for special-needs students up to the age of 21, the Billings school district has elected to opt-out. Superintendent Greg Upham has said allowing older students to graduate could set a bad precedent and threaten to fund the district.

You can read the full story here.


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