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I graduated a year ago (June 2014) and took a year off to explore the world. Having finished my year, I went to apply to colleges, but my high school refuses to provide the transcript. In my best attempt to summarize the emails with the guidance department, accessing my grades has become inconvenient, and they wish me the best of luck getting them from elsewhere. Is this legal? What are my options?

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    You have indicated you are looking for a New York transcript. Assuming it is a public school in NYC, see schools.nyc.gov/RulesPolicies/StudentRecords/Transcripts/… – Viktor Nov 3 '15 at 17:40
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    New York State, not NYC – TheEnvironmentalist Nov 3 '15 at 17:55
  • I think you should contact your district'ss school board officials and the principal of the high school in that case. I do not know of any law or regulation that would force the high school to issue a transcript. – Viktor Nov 3 '15 at 19:04
  • @Viktor: There might not be a law. But surely the duty to release transcripts must be addressed by the administrative code that binds the school district. – Mowzer Nov 4 '15 at 1:15
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From the comment banter under the question, I see that the school has enlisted a third party service to manage transcripts.

There are several primary reasons for this: first, it offloads a large record-keeping job from the school administration, it provides a level of standardization to the transcript format, and finally, perhaps most importantly, it provides a verifiable chain of control for the document that excludes the student.

This last is the most important.

It also sounds like both the school guidance counselor AND the representative at the third party are misguided as to your rights to the information, and their responsibilities vis a vis the information.

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    @TheEnvironmentalist: Thanks to this answer, it sounds like the missing piece here might be that the guidance counsellor needs to contact Naviance on your behalf and not you, directly. That makes all the facts fit. Try that approach. But seriously, get everything in writing and build your paper trail starting right now. – Mowzer Nov 3 '15 at 18:34
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Their response sounds preposterous.

I can't imagine a public school would be allowed to withhold transcripts. A private school might be a different matter. (Your question doesn't clarify which.)

If I were you, I would consider this response to be an error made by a low-level, perhaps undertrained, employee. I would set an appointment to meet in person with their immediate supervisor and bring a copy of your original request, their response and a new request written by you and addressed directly to the supervisor. If that fails, I would go to successively higher levels of authority (e.g., vice-principal, principal, school board, city council, board of supervisors, mayor or board of directors if a private school) until somebody does their job and gives you that transcript.

If the records were, say, lost in a fire for example or their servers were accidentally wiped, I would demand they use their best efforts to reproduce to the best of their ability what the transcripts would or should say. You can use your old report cards, personal recollection and the memories and grade books of your old teachers to do so. Have it signed by an official person and always keep a copy in your files.

If that still doesn't get you relief, I would consult an attorney or your local legislative representative (city council member, state legislature representative or state senator). That's ridiculous.

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    This was the head of guidance at the school. The school is certainly a public school, in the state of New York. The reasoning given is that transcripts are handled through the service Naviance (which depending on your familiarity with the Common App, you may or may not be familiar with). Naviance is essentially a middleman for sending transcripts and recommendations to colleges, and holds on to records for three years after students graduate. The school claims that they no longer have access to any of my information, and working with Naviance would be complicated and time-consuming. – TheEnvironmentalist Nov 3 '15 at 17:08
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    @TheEnvironmentalist: You should have mentioned Neviance in the original question. That's a pretty important fact. Then I don't see what the problem is. You're still comfortably within the 3-year time window. Why don't you just contact Neviance for the transcripts then? – Mowzer Nov 3 '15 at 17:13
  • I have. Naviance has indicated the burden falls on the guidance counselor – TheEnvironmentalist Nov 3 '15 at 17:56
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    @TheEnvironmentalist: Then I would get Naviance's position in written form. (The shortest path to getting it in writing is to send your Naviance contact an email summarizing your understanding of what they told you.) Then take that documentation back to the guidance counsellor. Then follow the procedure I described in my answer. The key to all this is to create a paper trail of documents that you can lay in front of someone. That documentation and paper trail is what will get you action. (Because it's clear, traceable and a potential law suit minus the cover sheet.) – Mowzer Nov 3 '15 at 18:18
  • You also might want to ping @gracey209. I'm curious what she might say. – Mowzer Nov 3 '15 at 18:25

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