Background Checks


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!