Do Permanent Records matter?

Inspired bythis thread, re: zero tolerance policies, I started thinking about how the girl might have to explain why she was suspended, in future matters. Then, I started trying to determine what situations would require her to do so.

The only time I could think that it might have any weight would be in the college application process. I volunteer with my university’s alumni association in interviewing college applicants, so while I’m not privy to the entire application process, I know a little about what colleges require / request, on the students’ end, but IIRC, the application would request the student divulge disciplinary matters and explain them.

Was the whole “don’t let this end up on your permanent record” warning a hollow threat? Barring egregious behavior (repeated fights or whatnot), does it carry any weight whatsoever? What all goes on one’s permanent record (suspensions would be an obvious item), but how about matters like tardies?

I would’ve posted this in General Questions, but I figured since there probably isn’t a “uniform answer”, the question might be better suited for this section.

Short answer: no.

Long answer: the permanent record doesn’t track things like tardies at most schools. Generally it’s just grades, classes taken, and suspensions/expulsions. It’s not even permanent - most school trash the detailed version after 10 years or so. You can order your own permanent record from your high school, usually, although you’ll probably be disappointed in the information in it.

Source: cousins are teachers, they laugh about stuff like this.

I know in the case of my high school, they only send the high school transcript to collages. Anything before 9th grade is not sent.

Colleges don’t really care who got suspended in the 6th grade.

I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as a “permanent record”. There are lots of different records from various sources that are not consolidated or compiled, unless you are the unfortunate target of an FBI investigation.

  1. There is no permanent record. I read a few years ago about the policy of my old high school. They only kept full records of courses and grades for a few years. Like 4-6. After that, they only kept lists who graduated when.

  2. As a ex-college prof, I’ve worked a lot with admissions. I have never seen an application that asked anyone to disclose suspensions or some such.

Note that the American Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act greatly restricts what information can be released without the student’s permission. If you say “Give college x a copy of my transcript.” Then they can only give them a copy of the transcript, nothing else. And disciplinary matters shouldn’t be part of a transcript.

Having a lot of extra stuff hanging around where someone might access it is one really good reason schools don’t like keeping a bunch of info around for more than necessary. Saves a lot of legal problems later.

As others have said, in general, no. My little brother was a victim of a zero tolerance policy in high school. He and his friend were scavenging through an old barn site in the country looking for relics. His friend found an old rusty machete type blade and wanted to keep it so he threw it in the back of my little brother’s truck and then forgot about it. The next day, a teacher walked past it in the parking lot and did what any rationale person would do - she called the police and had my brother detained for bringing a ‘deadly weapon’ to school. This was the same school where students could leave deer rifles in their vehicles during deer season but we are talking a dull, rusty knife blade, not rifles and it wasn’t deer season so you can surely see the logic.

The school board decided to double-up on the stupidity and scheduled an expulsion hearing that most likely would have had him kicked out for good based on the zero tolerance mindset in place. My mother just had him drop out of high school instead rather than have an expulsion on his record. He enrolled in community college a year early and then transferred to a respectable 4 year school to complete his degree.

He is a Coast Guard Officer now. The only time that incident came up was when they did the detailed background check before he could join. He volunteered the information himself, gave a explanation and that was that. He has high level security clearances and everything.

None of that stuff would ever come up for a person that didn’t apply for a job requiring a DOD security clearance and it isn’t even a deal breaker as long as you can explain it well.

Such things might get in the way of scholarships controlled by the local school community where indiscretions are know of by word of mouth. For example, I got the Faculty Scholarship at my High School; I doubt I would have gotten that if I’d had major discipline problems. Beyond that, not so much.

My guidance counselor used to try to terrorize me with tales of college interviews and rough questions I would be asked. Since then I’ve been admitted to three Big Ten programs (BA, MA, Ph.D) without an interview in sight. I’m beginning to think he was mistaken.


I make six figures annually working as a contract employee and I was hell on teachers and principals. Not only does it not matter, it makes you wonder why most schools even bother to keep anything other than graduation records as the other information cannot be used or divulged.

The closest thing to a Permanent Record now is Facebook.

BUT - do not let kids know that this doesn’t really exist. This threat is one of the last methods we have to control them.