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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.
 
Confidential Records

  1. 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.
       
  2. 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

  1. Retention Period
     
    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.
     
  2. 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.
     
  3. Destruction Authorization
     
    The destruction of university records should be authorized by the senior officer of each administrative or academic office of responsibility.
     
  4. Safe and Secure Disposal 
     
    Paper records containing confidential information should be shredded, not simply thrown out with miscellaneous trash.
     
    Electronic records
    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.

Back to Record Retention Schedules  

Last Updated 06/01/09

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