Lost diploma in Hurricane Katrina
December 21, 2011 2:47 PM   Subscribe

How can I prove that I have an associates degree when the school is closed and the Custodian of Records said the records were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.

I attended a vo-tech school in 1981. I graduated with an Associates Degree in Electronic Engineering. The school has since closed. Remington College is now the Custodian of Records. When I contacted Remington to get my transcripts or a copy of my diploma, I was told that the records were stored off site and were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. My own records were also lost in Hurricane Katrina.

I did receive Stafford loans to attend school. On the Federal Government web site, I was able to find a record of my loans, but the institution named as receiving the loans is Remington College, not the original vo-tech school.

I contacted my employer from 1982, but they do not have a copy of my diploma in the personnel files. I was laid off of that company in 1995. They can verify dates of employment, title, and salary. My title was Electronic Engineer.

I am applying for a job that requires at the minimum an associates degree. Any ideas on how to prove I have one?

I live in Louisiana and the closed school was in Louisiana.
posted by JujuB to Education (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do they require you to submit your diploma or something? List it on your resume as normal, and if they require proof, list all the pieces of evidence you can. Ask the Custodian of Records to send something official-looking saying they wouldn't have it even if it existed, get copies of your Stafford Loans, etc., but don't bother giving them any of this stuff unless they ask for proof.
posted by brainmouse at 2:50 PM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Are you certain you have to prove it? Could you talk to the HR folks at the place you're applying, explain your (quite unusual) situation, and see if your loan records plus a letter from your old employer might be sufficient?
posted by Betelgeuse at 2:51 PM on December 21, 2011

Oh; or what brainmouse says is even better; don't get into the details of it unless they require it.
posted by Betelgeuse at 2:52 PM on December 21, 2011

I have only once been asked for evidence of my degree, and that was when I was interviewing at Google, who actually wanted my GPA.
posted by kindall at 2:55 PM on December 21, 2011

1. Part of what you're paying for when you attend a college, the biggest part even, is proof that you, you know, attended.

It may be that Remington College assumed some sort of legal responsibility to verify your schooling once they took over as Custodian of Records from your old school. Maybe chat to a lawyer to see if you can get your tuition money returned to you. Even if it doesn't solve your immediate problem, it couldn't hurt. I believe reputable lawyers will give you a free initial consultation.

2. If you provide your name and the name of the school, someone may be able to find records online that tie you to it or demonstrate you graduated. (One of the positive side effects of ever-eroding privacy.)
posted by jsturgill at 2:55 PM on December 21, 2011

My partner's school was closed and he has no proof of degree. He has a letter from the state saying that they do not have all the records for that school and that they couldn't find it either. No one has ever asked him for proof.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 2:59 PM on December 21, 2011

The job I am applying for is a civil service position with the city of New Orleans. The associates degree is a requirement, they are holding my application pending proof of the degree or grade transcripts.

The name of the school was R.E.T.S. (Radio Electronic Technical School), located in Metairie Louisiana. I attended a 2 year program in 1981.

Remington College told me they have a few records, but the vast majority of the records of the schools from the Greater New Orleans area were damaged beyond repair. They are willing to write a letter to that effect.
posted by JujuB at 3:19 PM on December 21, 2011

Certainly the city of New Orleans is familiar with the effects of Hurricane Katrina on various institutions in the area and has some sort of way to deal with these situations.

I would call up the city's office that is relevant for your position and tell them exactly what you've told us, and ask them to proceed. You can't be the only person in New Orleans who has had various records destroyed.
posted by dfriedman at 3:34 PM on December 21, 2011

@kindall: I've never been asked for proof of my degree either, but if they do a background check, especially one done through a third party, and come back with "no record of this person graduating", most HR departments will assume the candidate is lying.

I wish had a suggestion.
posted by kjs3 at 3:37 PM on December 21, 2011

Maybe ask if a combination of the letter certifying that the records were destroyed + your loan documentation + some sort of portfolio of work showing that you have the sorts of skills an AA in Electrical Engineering would work?
posted by smirkette at 4:27 PM on December 21, 2011

This is a long shot, but do you remember the name(s) of any of your instructors? They may have kept records of their own, such as copies of the grades they submitted to the school for a particular class.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:52 PM on December 21, 2011

Is there any other agency that would have a copy of your degree? Any other jobs you applied to that they still might have your file on hand?
posted by NoraCharles at 5:22 PM on December 21, 2011

Was there a formal graduation and, if so, might your parents' still have a photo or program? Do you remember any of your classmates or teachers; perhaps you could ask one for an affidavit attesting to your graduation? Good luck.
posted by carmicha at 5:47 PM on December 21, 2011

I assume you would've mentioned this if it were so, but there are various places that could have requested your records at some point pre-Katrina, most obviously any other school you'd ever applied to and the federal gov't (Stafford). That is to say, I'm pretty sure they had (at that point) needed proof of attendance that the college provided. It really seems unlikely that the only record available would have been paper copy in one location if you applied for federal aid or requested records sent elsewhere at any point. I guess it could've been true with all-paper records, though. Still, even if Stafford wouldn't have your GPA, they'd have a record of how long you were in school and the graduation date, since that directly affects your loan, even if that info isn't stated on the website, so I'd do some more digging there, just on the premise that the Fed gov't knows everything.

Rather than just a professor, I'd also say you should look for an Academic dean plus that, maybe. In my case, for instance, I went to a small school so the dean actually knows me (well, one of the deans). If the Stafford site says 'Remington' and you could get proof your college = Remington for these purposes, especially from the gov't (if possible), that's also something.
posted by reenka at 6:12 PM on December 21, 2011

Have you asked your potential employer what information will satisfy them, given your situation? It may be an affadavit from you, and another supporting it from a past employer or other third party might be adequate (for example).
Governments deal with lost records all the time, and usually have a process for dealing with it.
posted by bystander at 8:56 PM on December 21, 2011

Post to Craigslist looking for faculty and/or students at the school at the same time you were. Especially see if you can track down the Registrar, President, Dean, etc. Get a notarized letter from anyone who was remembers you, or who can assert the existence of the school. Get a letter or legal document (affadavit) from Remington stating that the records were destroyed, giving the dates of the Hurricane and flooding. Was the school accredited or licensed? There may be records. If you can build a paper picture of the circumstances, it should help.

You can't be the only person in this situation. Call the Louisiana attorney general's office and ask about any new rules that address this situation, or any assistance they can give you.
posted by theora55 at 9:23 PM on December 21, 2011

I do not know if your degree falls under one of the LAPELS disciplines, but if so they may have have a list of all the graduates in the state from your year. Even if not, they may be able to put you in touch with someone who had been involved with your school. It would not hurt to contact them

As a long shot, you may be able to contact the agency which gave your school its accreditation. They may have a list of graduates. Remington may be able to provide this for you.
posted by Yorrick at 9:37 PM on December 21, 2011

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