Columbus man inches closer to diploma more than a decade after h - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus man inches closer to diploma more than a decade after high school

Justin Cason Justin Cason
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

A new law could mean a new start at life for thousands of people in Georgia, including some local people who've been without a diploma for decades. 

Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 91 this week that eliminates the Georgia High School Graduation test.

Four points was all it took to decide the fate of 31-year-old Justin Cason.

"I've been working at my job where I'm at now for 11 years coming April," Cason said as he stood outside a Columbus Piggly Wiggly.

Cason failed the science portion of the Graduation Test by just a few points in 2004. It was a narrow miss that he says has dictated his career ever since.

"Devastating I couldn't go to college, couldn't go to trade school, couldn't do anything. The only option that I had was to go to work,"said Cason.

Cason explained that he graduated from the Special Education department of Hardaway High School in Columbus but the Graduation Test kept him from higher education.

Now new winds of opportunity are blowing for many students like him who were eligible to graduate but failed the exam.

The law will apply to any student enrolled in the 9th grade before July 1, 1981. It's something that's creating a big undertaking for Muscogee County Education administrators.

"We have nine high schools that are potentially affected by this and there's at least 8,000 students across Georgia overall that are affected by this new law," said Valerie Fuller with Muscogee County Schools.

"Soon as I can get in touch with the school and get it, I'm gonna go back to college and get a degree in some sort," Cason explained.

People across the Chattahoochee Valley are already jumping on the law enacted this past Monday and keeping officials here on their toes.

"We've been receiving quite a few phone calls since House Bill 91 has been signed into law by the governor, we're just as excited as those students and parents of the children who will now be able to earn or receive their high school diploma," Fuller said.

"I'm gonna frame it, post it on Facebook, I mean it's a big deal for kids like me," said Cason.

The Muscogee County School District has already started the process of contacting families and students who might be eligible for now getting their high school diplomas, after all these years.

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