Board of Trustees Policy
Subject: Records and Retention
Date: June 2007
- To define confidential records;
- To strengthen safeguards against the unauthorized or accidental disclosure of confidential records;
- To define the required length of time specific documents or records are required to be maintained and stored;
- To define and establish accountability;
- To define appropriate measures for reasonable care in the disposal of confidential information, including its protection during storage, transportation, handling and destruction.
Montgomery County Community Colleges 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 it maintains.
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 which concern hiring, appointment, promotion, tenure, salary, performance, termination or other circumstances of employment.
- Records that include "protected health information" as defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (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.
Safeguards Against Unauthorized or Accidental Disclosure
Until the records are properly disposed, each Department is accountable for securing the access to and the maintenance and disposal of its records regardless of the records’ format and 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.
Records Storage and Disposition
The Department of origin may secure and store records in its office or in the College Records Center, so long as the records are authorized for destruction and disposed of in accordance with the Records Retention Schedule. A retention period must be assigned to all records transferred to the College Records Center.
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 Records Retention Schedule. All documents will be properly shredded prior to disposal.
Records Retention Schedule
The Records Retention Schedule is a guideline that sets forth the length of time 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 Director of College Services should be notified of any records not covered by the Records Retention Schedule. The Director of College Services 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 and procedure.
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 and transferred to the College Records Center. When those records have reached the conclusion of their retention period, the office of origin or the Director of College Services 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 stored in the College Records Center shall be authorized jointly by the senior officer of the Division of origin and by the Director of College Services. Should these individuals be unable to agree, destruction will be stayed pending review and final determination by the Vice President of Administration and Finance. Requests for records destruction and disposal may be initiated by the senior officer or the Director of College Services.
Safe and Secure Disposal
The College Services Division shall oversee and arrange the destruction and disposal of all records stored in the College Records Center and covered in the Records Retention Schedule. All paper records covered by the Records Retention Schedule shall be destroyed by shredding. All digital records covered by the Records Retention Schedule shall be destroyed under the supervision of the Information Technology Department.
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 confidential information. It is anticipated that in most cases two copies of the destruction record shall be retained: one at the College Records Center and one in the office of origin. The destruction record may be retained in paper, digital, or other format.