Board of Trustees Policy: 5.12
Date: June 2023
Supersedes: June 2007
Montgomery County Community College (the "College") is committed to maintaining the integrity and security of confidential records and information created, received, maintained and/or stored by the College in the course of carrying out its educational and research missions. This Records Retention Policy (this "Policy") addresses the obligation to secure confidential information from unauthorized or unlawful disclosure. It is intended to reflect federal and state law governing privacy and confidentiality of records, as well as College policies and procedures addressing specific categories of records and information.
This Policy is intended to:
- Define confidential records;
- Maintain safeguards against the unauthorized or accidental disclosure of confidential records;
- Define the required length of time specific documents or records are required to be maintained and stored;
- Define and establish accountability; and
- Define appropriate measures for reasonable care in the disposal of confidential information, including its protection during storage, transportation, handling and destruction.
The College respects the privacy of its students, faculty, and staff and manages all records to safeguard privacy. The College complies with applicable laws and good business practices for the records that it creates, receives, maintains and stores.
The following types of records are considered "Confidential":
- Education records as defined by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
- Individual employment records including records concerning hiring, appointment, promotion, tenure, salary, performance, termination and other circumstances of employment.
- Records that include "protected health information" as defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as amended ("HIPAA").
- Records the use of which has been restricted by contract.
- All administrative records of the College, with certain exceptions, such as those which must be open in conformance with law.
- Records which might expose the College to legal liability if exposed.
If there is any doubt as to whether a record is a Confidential Record, the user should treat the record as confidential until directed otherwise.
Safeguards Against Unauthorized or Accidental Disclosure
Until the records are properly disposed of, each Department is accountable for securing the access to and the maintenance and disposal of its records regardless of the records’ format and/or location. Each Department is accountable for ensuring that employees, and others, are only granted access to Confidential information essential to the performance of their duties. Further, each Department must ensure that those granted access are trained and undertake reasonable safeguards to protect the Confidential information. The President shall appoint a Custodian to be responsible for ensuring each Department adheres to the requirements of this Policy.
Records Storage and Disposition
The Department of origin may secure and store records in its office, so long as the records are authorized for destruction and disposal in accordance with the College's Records Retention Schedule.
Maintenance and disposition of records created, retained, or stored in electronic format shall proceed on the same basis as traditional records. Unless retention is otherwise required by law, paper records that are scanned into a secure digital record format may be immediately disposed of by shredding. The resulting digital file must be maintained and updated, as necessary, by the Department to ensure retention as required by this Policy. Each Department shall authorize the storage, destruction, and disposal of records under its purview based on the guidelines set forth in the College's Records Retention Schedule. All documents will be properly shredded prior to disposal.
Records Retention Schedule
The College's Records Retention Schedule is a guideline that sets forth the length of time that records shall be retained. The Schedule is intended to cover all College records for which there is a legal, regulatory or management retention requirement.
The Custodian should be notified of any records not covered by the Records Retention Schedule. The Custodian will determine, in consultation with the College’s legal counsel, whether to destroy the records in question or add those records to the Records Retention Schedule.
Duplicate records should be destroyed and disposed of as early as practical.
Suspension of Records Retention Schedule in the Event of a Claim, Lawsuit, Government Investigation, Subpoena, Summons, or Other Ongoing Matters
Upon service of legal process (subpoena, summons or the like), 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, pending resolution of the matter.
Extended Retention Period
Records which are retained beyond the guidelines outlined in the Records Retention Schedule will be disposed of in accordance with this Policy.
College records which have passed through the active phase of their life cycle and are no longer needed in their office of origin for the day-to-day operation of that office may be identified by office staff. When those records have reached the conclusion of their retention period, the office of origin will initiate the process for the records’ destruction and disposal.
Upon reaching the prescribed timeframe as outlined in the Records Retention Schedule, or any extension thereto, the destruction of records shall be authorized by the senior officer of the Division of origin. Requests for records destruction and disposal may be initiated by the senior officer.
A destruction record is an inventory describing and documenting those records, in all formats, authorized for destruction, as well as the date, agent, and method of destruction. The destruction record itself shall not contain any confidential information. It is anticipated that a copy of the destruction record shall be retained in the office of origin. The destruction record may be retained in paper, digital, or other format.
Violations of this Policy
Violations of this Policy will be treated seriously. Employees’ failure to comply with this Policy may lead to discipline, up to and including termination. Student workers employed by the College who violate this Policy may be terminated from their jobs and may also face discipline in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct. Others covered by this Policy may lose the opportunity to contract with, volunteer for, or otherwise provide service to the College. Depending on the circumstances, violations may also subject the violator to criminal or civil prosecution under federal or state laws.