April 16, 2015
TO THE ADMINISTRATOR ADDRESSED:
SUBJECT: Honor Graduate Certificate
The Texas Education Agency allows each public and accredited non-public high school in Texas one "Honor Graduate Certificate." This Certificate must be presented to the highest ranking graduate in the senior class. Under no circumstances should a student ranked lower than "highest" be awarded this honor. The highest ranking graduate should receive a Certificate and a declaration document authorizing the president of any state-supported college or university to provide a waiver for tuition as specified in the law (Texas Education Code, §54.301). Some non-state-supported colleges and universities may also recognize this award and provide the tuition waiver. Students should present the declaration document to the college or university upon admission and retain the certificate for personal use.
Determination of which student is named "highest ranking graduate" at each high school is a decision which rests strictly with the local school district. Local school boards should adopt and adhere to a policy that outlines the criteria and the method by which a student is selected as the highest ranking graduate. State law contains no provision that designates the Commissioner of Education or the Texas Education Agency as the decision-making authority in this area.
Please visit tea.texas.gov/HRGforms/ for additional information regarding instructions on printing the certificate and submitting the verifying documents. Each high school may award only one student except in the case of a tie as specified in the Attorney General's opinion below:
An institution of higher education is authorized to issue scholarships to more than one person in any case in which the relevant school district certifies a tie for the title of "highest ranking graduate," pursuant to Section 54.201 of the Texas Education Code, (TEC).
Op. Atty. Gen. 19892-No. MW-529. Please note that TEC Section 54.201 has been re-designated 54.301 by the 82nd Legislature.
Although this opinion authorizes the issuance of more than one certificate in the event of a tie for "highest ranking graduate," the criteria for identifying such students must be stringently applied. It is the responsibility of the district to establish a selection process that will result in the identification of the single "highest ranking graduate." In rare cases in which more than one student meets the district's criteria for selection, two certificates may be issued; however, in no event will more than two certificates be issued for one high school.
Should you have additional questions regarding this matter, please contact Ron Heinrich in Federal and State Education Policy, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (512) 936-6060.
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