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BAMBERG, Germany — The Defense Department school system in Europe is taking measures to ensure transcripts for upper school students across the system are handled consistently, after an investigation revealed irregularities at the Ansbach Middle/High School that required some students to complete additional course work to meet graduation requirements.

“The transcript is probably the single most important document that a student leaves a school with,” said Department of Defense Dependent Schools-Europe chief of staff Harvey Gerry. “We really have to make sure that thing is accurate.”

The investigation found that among the senior class “more than 50 records had issues,” Bob Purtiman, public affairs officer for DODDS-Europe, said. Investigators looked into all student records at the school from grades 9-12 over the last four years, said Purtiman.

A U.S. Army colonel from an outside organization and two subject matter experts from the DODDS-Europe headquarters led the investigation, Purtiman said. It began late last year after the errors were discovered during a routine review of the records in October.

Among the problems identified were data entry errors in a new automated system that some counselors were not fully familiar with; lack of a clear policy on granting exceptions for required courses and some students being given credits erroneously for repeated courses, Gerry said.

“We have kids that come from hundreds of school systems across the United States,” said Gerry. “All school systems are a little bit different. So, there is always some degree of judgment, and that’s why we’ve got professional people in those positions to make those judgments.”

“We want to ensure that all of our counselors understand the expectations of our graduation requirements — as well as our principals — and the interpretation of classes, grades and student records is very clear, so that it doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity for individual interpretation,” said Gerry.

No students were kept from graduating because of the irregularities, and no former students records were affected, he said. However, five students at the Ansbach school had to complete online courses to meet requirements so they could graduate with their peers.

DODDS-Europe immediately began to look for solutions to prevent the situation from occurring elsewhere, Gerry said.

“If it could happen there [Ansbach] it could happen some place else,” Gerry said. “We have to make sure these things are accurate; that is our responsibility to the students.”

He said new policies and more aggressive training on the new data entry system are being implemented, and DODDS-Europe is working closely with parent organization Department of Defense Education Activity to ensure consistency across the entire school system. DODDS-Europe officials said the investigation also includes recommendations to DODEA on how to change the current policy, which is currently being reviewed by DODEA.

Blottenbergerd@estripes.osd.mil

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