Getting junior college to expunge records
June 5, 2016 12:05 PM   Subscribe

I want my records expunged from a junior college who doesn’t have a policy of doing so. How do I go about this?

I have a disciplinary file that I received many years ago at a junior college. Nothing was noted on my transcript and I have since moved onto university and am doing well for myself. I’m applying to grad/professional school after taking a gap year off, with a total of 4 years removed from the incident. I’m not sure which path to take just yet, but I’m sure some schools ask and some don’t. Either way I think it’s best to get the records expunged somehow in the event that they do.

Schools have their own policies for expunging disciplinary records. My university does so after graduation. However, when I spoke to the Dean of Students at my junior college, I was told that they keep the records indefinitely, but FERPA would protect me from disclosure if I don’t want potential schools to know. I have moral issues with this; I will have to tell them for the sake of transparency if they ask.

Ultimately, I want my records expunged from a junior college who doesn’t have a policy of doing so. How do I go about this?
posted by squirtle to Education (13 answers total)
Morally, won't you have to tell them the truth, regardless of whether the records are expunged? I don't really understand the issue.

That said, you could try being persistent. Maybe they'll agree when they see it's important to you, or to make you go away? You could also try finding a lawyer. Maybe they can help, or have ideas.
posted by J. Wilson at 12:40 PM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

If it's not on your transcript, graduate schools won't ever know about it.

You're worried about the section of some applications where you have to say if you've had disciplinary action or a criminal record? I suppose it could be significant for med school or law school. In any case, information from a community college is much less important than from your degree granting school.

You can report it and include an explantation in your application, or you could just consider it irrelevant since it's not on your transcript and not report it.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:48 PM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm not familiar with the process of applying to these schools (I'm two years away from it), so I was under the impression that they only ask if I have a file on me? I'll google around.
posted by squirtle at 12:50 PM on June 5, 2016

I think the criminal record thing is about felonies, not about college disciplinary procedures. Your junior college has said they can't disclose this information since it's not on your transcript. I think you are ok and probably won't get very far in fighting this.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:51 PM on June 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yeah, "having a file" on you isn't really a thing. If suggest looking at a few applications for graduate programs.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:53 PM on June 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

My frame of reference is a large US university. I think our graduate school's application used to ask about felonies and disciplinary actions.

I was checking our grad college's on-line application just now, and I can't even see a section for felonies (which honestly seems a little lax.) But as someone involved in grad school admissions. I can't imagine anyone here caring if you had one junior college disciplinary write-up for something that didn't even result in a transcript note.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:56 PM on June 5, 2016

I was under the impression that they only ask if I have a file on me?

No, they ask if you've ever faced something like this, to prevent applicants from doing exactly what you're trying to do. You need to give a clear response, in addition to having any records passed from your earlier schools to the school you're applying to.

There's no real motivation for your previous college to grant your request, and quite a bit of disincentive. They know the other schools are concerned about accepting someone who might pose a risk and want to accept (or deny) a candidate with eyes wide open. They feel the same pressure themselves. And, in this day and age, expunging records unnecessarily would be seen by some administrators as a legal risk in the event you went on to do something at another institution similar to what you did when a student there.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 12:57 PM on June 5, 2016 [12 favorites]

I can only speak to what I know (medical school), but I know several people who were "caught" claiming that they never faced disciplinary action -- not because they were trying to hide anything, but because the events had been "expunged" and they believed that absolved them of a duty to disclose them. As NotMyweightRightNow notes, it does not, and it had consequences for those people.

With that said, people are admitted to graduate school all the time even with disciplinary actions (and crimes!) on their records. You'll be viewed more favorably for volunteering the information, for being years out from the incident, and for demonstrating a mature attitude when given the chance to explain yourself. Don't worry too much about it.
posted by telegraph at 1:20 PM on June 5, 2016 [5 favorites]

So it appears that grad schools are different than med/law schools. I'll look at some grad school applications myself later today, but based on the Dean of Student's advice and comments on this thread, they don't ask about disciplinary files and I shouldn't worry about it.

telegraph, how were they caught when the events were expunged? Thankfully my infraction wasn't too severe -- I'd rather be transparent than risk getting kicked out of med school, which was what I assume happened?
posted by squirtle at 1:37 PM on June 5, 2016

My engineering school does ask all graduate applicants whether they have previously been subject to disciplinary actions.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:30 PM on June 5, 2016

squirtle, I don't want to get into details because every school and situation is different, but yes, it suffices to say that lying on an application is more than enough to get kicked out of many medical schools. I have a lot of classmates who had disciplinary actions in the past, were honest about it, and were admitted anyway.

As NotMyweightRightNow notes,

That's is a hysterical malapropism.

I honestly have no idea how or why I did this!
posted by telegraph at 3:28 PM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

In almost all instances, lying about a past disciplinary/criminal issue on an application (any application!) would be an automatic disqualifier, while actual disciplinary/criminal issues often are not. Don't lie about it if they do ask.
posted by lazuli at 4:21 PM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's better to self-disclose, and be able to explain how you've moved past it. It happened; you can't un-ring that bell.
posted by RainyJay at 6:06 PM on June 5, 2016

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