DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — No transcripts and no diploma meant no college grants for a Dauphin County Woman. She graduated from high school, but somehow the school district lost her information. She asked the abc27 investigators for help.
“I feel like I’m lost,” Debra Carl-Zerbe said. She graduated from Central Dauphin High School 32 years ago. She is now a non-traditional student at Harrisburg Area Community College and recently, ran into a problem when she applied for a Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency grant.
“PHEAA sent me a letter two weeks ago stating they needed a copy of my diploma or my transcript in order to be eligible for the grant,” Carl-Zerbe said. The problem, no one has a copy. “I reached out to HACC, they stated they didn’t have a record of it so I reached out to Central Dauphin. They have been looking for the records”
Unable to find Debra’s records, Central Dauphin offered her a commencement document. “PHEAA won’t budge. Its either gotta be the diploma or the transcript. Now it’s between Central Dauphin, HACC and PHEAA and everybody is just pushing the ball to everybody else,” Carl-Zerbe said.
With a 30 day deadline looming, Debra contacted the abc27 investigators. We discovered HACC does not require high school transcripts as a condition of admission so it didn’t have a copy of Debra’s. According to the Department of Education, school districts are required to save records but its up to each school district to decide how long.
Central Dauphin’s policy states records are kept for 100 years after a student turns 21. It said due to the sheer volume of records, the district uses Filebank, a paperless records management company in New Jersey. The district did not offer an explanation as to why it could not locate Debra’s information.
“I don’t know how they transferred the microfilm to New Jersey. Did they move stuff or transfer it through a system that they just misplaced mine somehow? I don’t know,” Carl-Zerbe said.
We then contacted PHEAA which said, “This one is actually already on our radar and I believe it is in the works to be approved.”
In the end, it worked out. “I actually got my summer grant and I got approved for my fall and spring grants,” Carl-Zerbe said. Debra still didn’t have her transcripts, that information may be lost forever. Central Dauphin School District did send her a new diploma. “If it was just me they probably would have just ignored me and I wouldn’t get my grant, but with the help of you, I think that helped a lot.”
We contacted several school districts, most retain records for 100 years. The Department of Education says it does not get involved if records are lost because it is a local school district policy.