Diploma Missing from School System

(WSVN) - He graduated back in 1975, and now he is retired and wants to go back to school to learn a new trade. One problem: He was told his diploma and transcripts cannot be found. Can they just be thrown away? It’s why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

It was a long time ago when Kevin Barr walked across the stage.

Kevin Barr, needs high school diploma: “It was a great day.”

Forty-two years ago to be exact, but Kevin remembers graduating from Miami Central High School very well.

Kevin Barr: “How you gonna forget when you graduate? Come on. You can be 100 years ago and you’re still living, and you know when you graduate.”

After school, Kevin moved to California. Now he has returned as a retiree.

Kevin Barr: “I wanna retrain. It’s boring sitting around all day.”

Kevin decided to start a new career by taking classes at Lindsey Hopkins Technical Education Center.

Kevin Barr: “Computer information technology, ’cause that’s where the job market is at.”

All he needed to enroll were his high school transcripts and diploma, which, of course, he didn’t have.

Kevin Barr: “Forty-two years ago? I don’t think so.”

So he headed to his alma mater.

Kevin Barr: “So I went up to Central, talked to the register, where they can’t seem to find no paperwork. No paper trail.”

Kevin was told that his transcripts and diploma from 42 years ago were not around, meaning he cannot get into classes to study computer technology.

Kevin Barr: “They will retrain me, but I got to have the transcripts and diploma for them to complete the paperwork.”

No diploma, no transcripts and no chance to go back to school.

Kevin Barr: “And there is nothing I can do about it but to call Help Me Howard.”

Well, Howard, Kevin graduated 42 years ago. Does a school or a district have to store his records that long?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Yes, the law is very clear in Florida. All public schools are required to permanently maintain certain educational records of students. That includes transcripts of grades and diplomas earned. And by law, you have a right to inspect your records, and once you request them, they have 30 days to show them to you.”

As we have learned doing Help Me Howard, half the solution is finding the right person and department.

Kevin Barr: “When I called Patrick Fraser, Help Me Howard, he knew exactly where to go and they dug it up.”

We talked to Miami-Dade Schools Attendance Services, and they quickly found the records.

Karen Sewing, Miami-Dade School District: “Mr. Kevin Barr, I would like to present you with a copy of your diploma from Miami Central Senior High School.”

Karen Sewing handed Kevin exactly what he had been searching for.

Karen Sewing: “And your transcripts. Everything is here for you, sir.”

Kevin can now move on with this education.

Kevin Barr: “And I got a 19-month rigorous curriculum in technology. I am looking forward to the next chapter.”

And since he is a Central alumni, Karen wanted Kevin to have a school shirt and bag.

Karen Sewing: “And we wish you all the best in your future endeavors with your education.”

Forty-two years after graduating, Kevin is ready for class after being reminded of a lesson many South Floridians have learned.

Kevin Barr: “When you got a problem, call Channel 7 Help Me Howard.”

If you went to a private school, they have your records. And if they went out of business, they are supposed to turn them over to the local school district. By the way, if you want to show your kids or friends how you made straight A’s through school, or in my case straight C’s, contact the school district. It’s free to look at your transcripts, and if you want copies, many won’t charge you much or anything at all.

Failing to make the grade solving your problem? Ready to graduate to a different class? Let’s see if we can pass the test. We don’t know all the answers, but we will study hard to find a way to ace things for you.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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