The School No Longer Exists

By Paul Barada Sr. | Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Following on the heels of a recent article I wrote about the upswing in candidates claiming college degrees they didn’t earn, the question has come up about verifying high school diplomas when the school no longer exists.  Over the years, high school consolidation has caused many high schools to disappear.  How does an employer verify that a job seeker really did graduate from a high school that was consolidated out of existence years ago?

Fortunately, the graduation records weren’t destroyed when the wrecking ball began to turn a small rural high school into rubble.  Most of the time the records of graduates either were sent to the district administrative office in the county in which the school was located or were sent to the high school that survived consolidation.  It may take a little longer to unearth the records because high school consolidation was at its zenith in the late 1960s, but the records were saved, for obvious reasons.

That doesn’t preclude a job seeker from claiming that it’s not possible to verify a high school diploma because his/her high school no longer exists.  The applicant may even have a diploma attesting to the fact that he/she graduated from a now-defunct school.  Whether or not that diploma is valid or not just takes a call to the administrative office of the school district in which the school was located.  If the records from the old school aren’t there, they’re usually kept at the surviving high school in that district.  It may take a little perseverance; but, with a little thoughtful questioning, the truth can be discovered.  If, for example, the applicant says that, although he or she has his/her old diploma, the high school itself is no longer there, all that has to be asked is in what county and state the school was located.  If nothing else, a quick check of an atlas will disclose the county seat, which will lead to the district’s administrative offices!  Armed with the name under which the applicant attended, the year of graduation, a date of birth, and a Social Security number, nearly any high school diploma can be verified – or not!

Filed in: Background Checks • Tuesday, August 10th, 2010


I work in legal investigation and more often than not records cannot be found for a school that has closed. Schools that closed in the 1960s/70s/80s did not have computers and any records would be in the form of hard copies. Because of the shere volume of paper records involved it would be almost impossible to track down, since they would not be indexed in the same manner that official records would be.

Try to imagine that one school’s records would likely entail thousands of boxes and dossiers. Even if the targeted records were located they would likely be in deep storage making access restricted. It’s unlikely that a government official is going to spend time perusing thousands of storage boxes to locate a high school record.

An easier approach would be locating a reference of the subject’s high school graduation in another form, such as a high school year book, which could easily be verified by contacting a graduate of that school on, to determine if in fact the subject actually graduated. Or it could be incorporated in a military record, since they would have required a high school diploma to enlist. Both of these methods would provide evidence – one way or the other – of the existence of a high school diploma.

Unless a school that has closed is consolidated into another school, records are going to be very hard to come by and will require time, resources and official connections to locate.


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