Guidelines for Records Retention Schedule and Destruction of Confidential Records
Records Retention Schedule
The Records Retention Schedule is a guideline that sets forth the length of time records are recommended to be retained. This guideline applies to all records listed on the schedule to the extent they are maintained by the university, including storage areas. The schedule is intended to cover all university records for which there is a legal, regulatory or management retention requirement.
The records retention schedule applies to records in the inactive phase of their life cycle. The inactive phase of a record begins at the conclusion of an ongoing matter, such as completion of a contract or research pursuant to a grant. Unless otherwise specified, the retention period set forth in the schedule begins at this point in time.
There are records for which there is no legal, regulatory or management retention requirement and those records should be authorized for destruction by the senior officer of each administrative or academic office of responsibility. It is recommended that such records be disposed of as early as the end of the active phase of their life cycle. Similarly, records that are duplicates should be disposed of as early as practical, unless the retention schedule requires otherwise.
Storage and Disposition
As discussed in the “Guidelines for the Destruction of Confidential Records,” offices of responsibility should authorize destruction of confidential records in ways appropriate with their confidentiality. The records retention schedule is the guide for determining how long records should be retained and maintained. It is the option of the responsible office whether to maintain records in that office or in the storage area, in paper or alternate format, such as digital formats, so long as the record is authorized for destruction and disposed of in accordance with the records retention schedule. A retention period must be assigned to and noted on all records transferred to the storage area.
Digital or electronic records
Disposition of records created, retained, or stored in information systems or computers should proceed on the same basis as traditional records. Digital or electronic records for which there is no retention requirement, such as e-mail, should be deleted promptly.
The university network files and Datatel information system are backed up nightly, seven days a week by the information technology office. The day one tape is put in the tape drive on the 1st day of the month and runs that night; the day two tape is used on the 2nd day of the month, and so on. Network and Datatel tapes are rotated on a monthly basis. All day one tapes are kept off-site.
Suspension of record disposition guidelines in the event of a claim, lawsuit, government investigation, subpoena, summons or other ongoing matters.
Upon notification of legal process (subpoena, summons, etc), or upon learning of an investigation or audit, or if a claim is made, whether formal or informal, or a dispute arises, the record retention schedule shall be suspended and records related to the legal process, claim, dispute, investigation or audit should not be destroyed.
Guidelines for the Destruction of Confidential Records
Statement of Purpose
The purpose of these guidelines is to strengthen safeguards against the unauthorized or accidental release of confidential records and information at Clarke University, to define confidential records and clarify that definition as needed, and to define appropriate ways to dispose of confidential information.
- The following types of records will be absolutely confidential:
- individual education records of living students or living former students, as defined by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, unless the student or former student grants access in writing;
- individual employment records of living current or former faculty members, administrators or other staff members, including records which concern hiring, appointment, promotion, tenure, salary, performance, termination or other circumstances of employment, unless the faculty member, administrator, or staff member grants access in writing;
- records that include “protected health information” as the same is defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), and regulations promulgated there under;
- other records where usage might be an invasion of privacy;
- records the use of which has been restricted by contract.
- The following types of records generally will be treated as confidential:
- all administrative records of the university for twenty-five years from the date of their creation, with certain exceptions, such as those which must be open in conformance with law;
- records of a current administration;
- records the disclosure of which might expose the university to legal liability.
Recommended Procedures for Destruction
Only those records retained for a period of time greater than the applicable retention schedule may be disposed of in accordance with these guidelines. Clarke’s institutional records retention schedules may be viewed on-line at Business and Finance – Policies & Procedures.
Suspension of Record Destruction in the Event of a Claim, Lawsuit, Government Investigation, Subpoena, Summons or Other Ongoing Matters
Upon notification of legal process (subpoena, summons, etc), or upon learning of an investigation or audit, or if a claim is made, whether formal or informal, or a dispute arises, the records retention schedules reference above shall be suspended and records related to the legal process, claim, dispute, investigation or audit should not be destroyed.
The destruction of university records should be authorized by the senior officer of each administrative or academic office of responsibility.
Safe and Secure Disposal
Paper records containing confidential information should be shredded, not simply thrown out with miscellaneous trash.
Containing confidential information may require a two-step process for confidential destruction. The first step is to delete the contents of digital files and empty of the desktop “trash” or “recycling bin”. It should be kept in mind that reconstruction and restoration of “deleted” files is possible in the hands of computer specialists. With regard to records stored on a “hard drive,” it is recommended that the University’s Computer Center staff be contacted to find out if further action should be taken to permanently delete records from your hard drive. With regard to floppy disks and back-up tapes, it is recommended that these storage devices be physically destroyed. These recommended methods of destruction may be arranged through the University’s Computer Center.
Film, audio and videotapes
Containing confidential information should also be physically destroyed, not simply thrown away. It is possible to overwrite audio and videotapes with other, non-confidential sound and images, but if this is done, it is recommended that it be done by an authorized member of the staff in the responsible office. Confidential destruction of film, audio and videotapes may also be arranged through the University’s Audio & Visual office.
Last Updated 12/07/16