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August 13, 2013

The Importance of Secure Data Disposal in the Education Sector

Nowhere is the issue of data protection more important than in the education sector. With stories increasingly making the headlines involving schools who have failed to protect their students and their personal information, never has it been so important to utilize PROSHRED®’s Education Records Shredding to securely store and dispose of unneeded confidential students’ and workers’ documents and hard drives.

Schools and universities have a duty of care obligation to their students. While enrolled, students have the right to expect that their confidentiality will be taken proper care of, and that their sensitive information will be treated as it should be; sensitively.

If this wasn’t already enough however, the recent passing of various laws has made it imperative that necessary action is taken to avoid the compromise of confidential information and materials. One example of such a law is the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) (20 USC §1232g, 34 CFR Part 99), which was brought into effect in 1974 in order to protect the privacy of student education records1 . As well as giving students the right to inspect their records at will, FERPA states that schools must properly destroy any no longer needed and personally identifiable data at the student’s request, be it electronic or paper. Failure to adhere to the act can result in severe punishments for the school in question, with fines of over $1 million having been issued to those found guilty of violations. In 1993, Gonzaga University in Washington was ordered to pay $1,155,000 in damages for failing to abide by the regulations, with a massive $450,000 awarded to the victim for the violation of the act itself, with the remaining amount awarded for damages2.

PROSHRED®  can help your institution comply with FERPA by providing you with both hard drive destruction and on-site document shredding services as well as a Certificate of Destruction to act as a document destruction audit trail.

Another regulation which educational institutions need to be aware of when making decisions regarding data protection and proper document destruction is that of FACTA (the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act) passed in November 2003. FACTA requires the safe disposal of consumer reports3, ranging from medical records to employment history; documents provided by schools and universities. Institutions which fail to abide by the strict regulations laid out in the act risk a fine of up to $1000 per student affected4, a sum which can quickly add up if several students are involved.

Other acts carry much larger fines, with the recent case of Idaho State University paying $400,000 to the Department of Health to settle alleged HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) violations serving as further proof that schools and universities are not beyond the reach of the law, and that they need to stringently follow rules in place, or face severe repercussions. Through using PROSHRED’s on-site document and hard drive shredding services, institutions can go a long way to eliminating any threat of falling foul of these laws.

Aside from helping educational institutions abide by various laws, PROSHRED® secure on-site shreddingcan also be used to free up much needed space and clear clutter by destroying no longer needed files and papers. The fact that PROSHRED shredding occurs on-site not only offers peace of mind, but also ensures that any records or files can be added to a load at the last minute, providing convenience and leaving your staff more time for the really important things.

PROSHRED is proud to protect your students and faculty.

 

[1]”Legislative History of Major FERPA Provisions.” Legislative History of Major FERPA Provisions. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 July 2013. <http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/leg-history.html>.
[2] “Office of General Counsel.” Cases Under Ferpa –. N.p., 26 June 2008. Web. 02 July 2013. <http://counsel.cua.edu/FERPA/fedlaw/cases.cfm>.
[3] “Articles.” The Facts on FACTA and Document Destruction. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 July 2013. <http://www.archivesystems.com/resources/articles/factaarticle.aspx>.
[4] Morse, Edward A. “The FACTA the Matter: Recent Cases Involving Payment Card Receipts Illustrate Flaws in “Bounty” Enforcement Regime – Pymnts.com.” PYMNTS News RSS. N.p., Apr. 2011. Web. 02 July 2013. <http://www.pymnts.com/journal/201-2/april7/The-FACTA-the-Matter-Recent-C….

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