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New law prohibits schools from withholding diplomas due to unpaid fees

(The Center Square) – A new Illinois law prohibits schools and school districts from withholding a student’s transcripts or diploma because of any unpaid balance owed the school.

House Bill 4243 was signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier this month. The measure is an effort to keep students advancing through grades even with unpaid bills.

Previous law did not address the withholding of grades, transcripts or diplomas for students for financial reasons, only academic performance and social issues.

State Sen. Adriane Johnson, D-Buffalo Grove, explained the legislation during Senate debate last month.

"This amends the school code and prohibits public school districts from withholding a student’s grades, transcripts, or diplomas because of an unpaid balance," Johnson said.

The bill also requires school districts to notify the Illinois State Board of Education of the total amount of unpaid accounts due to the prohibition of withholding grades, transcripts, or diplomas.

"At the end of each school year, the school district must catalog and report to the state board of education the total unpaid amount that remains," Johnson said.

The law goes into effect immediately.

"Students are so much more than a set of credits,” Johnson said in a statement. “They are scholars and future contributors to our society, and we should do all we can to further their academic careers and not contribute to unnecessary burdens.”

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