Cunningham in committeeSPRINGFIELD –State Senator Bill Cunningham advanced legislation out of the General Assembly that would allow special education students to graduate with their peers, rather than leave school the day they turn 22.

“Special education students deserve a natural end to their final school year,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “They should be able to graduate with their friends and say goodbye the same way every other student does.”

Current Illinois law allows special education students to remain in school past the typical graduation age of 18, but it requires them to stop attending classes as soon as they turn 22.

Cunningham and State Representative Fran Hurley (D-Chicago) introduced the measure after they were approached by the parents of a local student who thought it was unfair that their child couldn’t finish school at the same time as students who weren’t in the special education program.

“I ran for office so that I could help solve problems,” Cunningham said. “It’s a good day when I can sponsor legislation that I know will truly help people – especially when the idea came from someone I represent.”

House Bill 40 now goes to the governor for his approval.