420.000 - Records Management
The College shall be responsible for the efficient and proper disclosure of public records as required by the laws and regulations of the State of Washington. Public records information shall include fully detailed administrative procedures. However, the Board has resolved that providing an index of all public records as specified in RCW 42.56.070 would be unduly burdensome and would interfere with the operations of the College. (The order was published as Clark College Resolution No. 97 by the Board of Trustees). The Board delegates to the president or designee the responsibility to appoint a public records officer who shall administer the process.
The purpose of this section is to set forth rules by which the College will provide full public access to public records, protect public records from damage or disorganization, and prevent excessive interference with other essential functions of the College in compliance with applicable state law.
- “Public records” include any writing containing information relating to the conduct
of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared,
owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency, regardless of physical form
- “Writing” means handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostatting, photographing, and every other means of recording any form of communication or representation including letters, words, pictures, sounds, symbols, or combination thereof and all papers, maps, magnetic or paper tapes, photographic films and prints, motion pictures, film and video recordings, diskettes, sound recordings, and other documents, including existing data compilations such as magnetic or punched cards, disks, drums, and other documents from which information may be obtained or translated.
Public Records Available
All public records of the College, as defined in WAC 132N-276-020, are available for public inspection and copying pursuant to these rules, except as otherwise provided by Chapter 42.56 RCW and WAC 132N-276-100.
The College is not required to retain every record ever created or used; records of a community college district are maintained in accordance with the retention schedule approved by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. In addition, the College will provide electronic records reasonably locatable using typical search features and organizing methods contained in our current software.
The College is not obligated to create a new record to satisfy a records request.
Public Records Officer
The College’s public records are in the charge of the public records officer, the vice president of administrative services or designee, as designated by the president. The public records officer is responsible for the implementation of the College’s rules and regulations regarding release of public records, coordinating the staff of the College in this regard, and generally ensuring compliance by the staff with the public records disclosure requirements of Chapter 42.56 RCW.
Public records are available for inspection and copying during the customary office hours of the College. For the purpose of this section, the customary office hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding office closures and College holidays.
Request for Public Records
In accordance with the requirements of Chapter 42.56 RCW, that agencies prevent unreasonable invasions of privacy, protect public records from damage or disorganization, and prevent excessive interference with essential functions of the agency, public records may be inspected or copies of records may be obtained by members of the public upon compliance with the following procedures:
- A request must be made in writing by completing a Request for Public Records form, which is available at Administrative Services. The form must be presented to the public records officer during customary office hours or mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to:
Administrative Services BRD 159
1933 Fort Vancouver Way
Vancouver, WA 98663-3598
Requestors will be required to provide the following information:
- Other contact information, including telephone number and any e-mail addresses
- Identification of the public records adequate for the public records officer or designee to locate the records
- Date and time of day of the request
Requests must be for identifiable records; an identifiable record is not a request
for information. Example: asking how much funding the College receives from the state
is a request for information. Asking for a copy of the College’s current operating
budget is a request for an identifiable record. In addition, public records requests
are not interrogatories and the College is not required to conduct legal research
for a requestor.
Requestors are encouraged to view documents available on the College website (www.clark.edu)prior to submitting a request for public records.
2. The public records officer will reply in writing to written requests within five business days of receipt of the request by either:
a. Providing copies of the requested records;
b. Acknowledging receipt of the request and providing a reasonable estimate of the time the College will require to respond;
c. Seeking clarification from the requestor; such clarification may be requested and provided by telephone, e-mail, or post. Based on the clarification provided, the public records officer or designee may revise the estimate of when records will be available; or
d. Denying the public records request. Denials of requests for public records will be accompanied by a written statement specifying the reason for denial.
3. Additional time to respond to a request will be based on the public records officer’s need to ask that the requester clarify the intent of the request, prioritize the request, to locate and assemble the information, to notify third persons or agencies who are the subject of or affected by the request, or to determine whether any of the information requested is exempt. If the requester fails to clarify the request, the College need not respond to it.
The College public records officer or designee will provide requestors the fullest assistance possible, however, requests will be filled in the most efficient manner allowing the maximum number of requests to be processed.
Cost of Providing Copies of Public Records
Fees for public records requests can be found at WAC 132N-276-090. In the event of any inconsistency between the WAC and the policy, the provisions of the WAC will prevail.
Revised Policy/Procedure Approved by Executive Cabinet
February 6, 2018
- The College reserves the right to determine that public records requested in accordance
with the procedures outlined above are exempt under the provisions of Chapter 42.56
- In addition, pursuant to Chapter 42.56 RCW, the College reserves the right to delete
identifying details in any cases when there is reason to believe that disclosure of
such details would be an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy protected by state
law or would impair a vital governmental interest. The public records officer will
fully justify the deletion in writing.
- The release or disclosure of student educational records is governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Separate and different procedures are established by the College for student educational records. (See Administrative Procedure 710.020 FAMILY EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS AND PRIVACY ACT (FERPA).)
Review of Denials of Public Records Requests
- Any person who objects to the denial of a request for public records may petition
for prompt review of such decision by tendering in writing, including e-mail, a request
for review. The written request must specifically refer to the written statement by
the public records officer or other staff member that constituted or accompanied the
- Immediately after receipt of a written request for review of a decision denying public
records, the public records officer or other staff member denying the request will
refer it to the president of the College or designee. The president or designee will
consider the College’s obligation to comply with the intent of Chapter 42.56 RCW,
the exemptions provided in Chapter 42.56 RCW or other pertinent statutes, and the
statutory provisions which require the College to protect public records from damage
or disorganization, prevent excessive interference with essential College functions,
and prevent any unreasonable invasion of personal privacy by deleting identifying
details. The president
or designee will complete the review within two business days after receiving the written request for review of the decision denying a public record.
Administrative remedies will not be considered exhausted until the College has returned the petition with a decision, provided the requested records, or until the close of the second business day following the denial of inspection has been reached, whichever occurs first.
Whenever the College concludes that a public record is exempt from disclosure and denies inspection and copying, the requester may request a review of the matter by the Office of the Attorney General. A written request for review by the Attorney General’s Office, along with a copy of the request and the College’s written denial, should be sent to:
Office of Attorney General
Public Records Review
PO Box 40100
Olympia, Washington 98504-0100
The Office of the Attorney General will conduct a prompt and independent review of
the request and the College’s denial and provide a written opinion as to whether the
record requested is exempt from disclosure. This review is not binding upon the College
or the requester.
Protection of Public Records
Requests for public records must be made at Clark College Administrative Services. Public records and a facility for their inspection will be provided by the public records officer. Records may not be removed from the place designed for their inspection. Removal, damage, or destruction of public records is a criminal offense and a violation of RCW 40.16. Copies must be made at the College. If copying facilities are not available at the College, the College will arrange to have copies made commercially.
The College will make available for public inspection and copying all indexes maintained for College use under the same rules and the same conditions as applied to public records.
The Office of the President will maintain indexes of orders, Board resolutions by number, and Board actions by date and subject. Administrative Services will maintain indexes of Board policies and administrative procedures by reference number and subject.
Adoption of Form
The form entitled “Request for Public Record(s)” will be used by all persons requesting inspection and/or copying or copies of College records.
Advisory Model Rules
In absence of a specific procedure, the College will look to the advisory model rules adopted by the Attorney General at Chapter 44-14 WAC.
Revised Policy/Procedure Approved by Executive Cabinet
May 10, 2011
Definition and Management Policy
College records include any paper (such as correspondence, reports, studies, completed forms, manuscripts, etc.), book, photograph, map, chart, disk, film, microfilm or magnetic media, or any copy or printout that has been made or received by the College.
In managing such documentation, it is the general policy of the College to:
- Create only the records needed for the transaction of public business and service.
- Retain the records needed only for administrative, legal, financial, and instructional
- Maintain active and inactive records in appropriately safe but cost-effective storage.
- Dispose of records only in accord with established and officially sanctioned records
- Identify and protect vital records.
- Preserve and transfer to archival custody records of historical significance.
- Quickly and efficiently dispose of records no longer required with a regard for confidentiality
- Provide access to public records in accord with the laws of public disclosure but with proper regard for rights of privacy.
- Protect the public interest by informing College staff of their responsibilities and
obligations as public servants for the maintenance and protection of the public records
and by encouraging efficiency and economy of resources in records keeping.
- Protect College staff by providing a legal mechanism for the identification and disposal
of obsolete public records.
- Save space by systematically removing records no longer required in daily operations
from active office space and equipment and by providing for the legal disposal of
- Save money by reducing or eliminating the need for new filing equipment, by releasing
surplus filing equipment for reuse, and by providing low-cost storage for less active
- Save time by improving the management and control over filing systems and by finding active records more easily after the removal of inactive material.
The College records management program is based on the statutory authority of Chapter 40.14 RCW (Preservation of Public Records) and Chapter 40.10 RCW (Protection of Essential Records).
College records are public records and may not be destroyed, microfilmed, or permanently removed without the approval of the State Records Committee.
No employee has, by virtue of his/her position, any personal or property right to public records even though he/she may have helped develop or compile them. The unauthorized destruction, removal, or use of College records is a violation of Chapter 40.16 RCW and is a criminal offense.
Records Management Responsibility
Each College office and department has primary responsibility for the proper and legal management of the records in its custody.
All College employees are responsible for ensuring compliance with state law, community college system policy, and these procedures for the management of College records. Day-to-day responsibility may be delegated to designated records coordinators.
College Records Officer
The College records officer, designated by the president, as required by state law, is responsible for overall program coordination and implementation. The College records officer serves as the College liaison with the State Records Committee, the Division of Archives, and the State Board’s records management office. The vice president of administrative services, or designee, is designated as the College records officer.
The College records officer provides assistance with records management by:
- Updating the records retention schedule.
- Transferring records to inactive storage.
Transferring historical records to archives.
Protecting vital or essential records.
Preparing and recovering from disasters.
Developing microfilm systems.
Accessing public records.
Destroying proprietary or confidential records.
Records Coordinator Responsibilities
Each department or administrative unit is to designate a staff member as “records coordinator.” The coordinator should be familiar with the office’s operations and files.
The records coordinator is responsible for the department’s records management program. In particular, the coordinator’s functions are to:
Act as liaison with the College records officer.
Apply and communicate the General Records Retention Schedule, and department-specific procedures, for the appropriate transfer, microfilming, storage, and/or destruction of department records.
Supervise the destruction of department records, particularly those of a confidential or proprietary nature.
Prepare inactive records for storage when appropriate.
Identify and coordinate the protection of essential or vital department records.
Identify and coordinate the transfer of historical records after they have served their administrative and legal purposes.
Revised Policy/Procedure Approved by Executive Cabinet
May 10, 2011
Court decisions and rules now place substantial obligations on public and private organizations to (1) preserve all electronic materials that could be relevant to pending or anticipated lawsuits and (2) retrieve and produce such materials in the course of such litigation. Failure to meet them may subject the College and the individuals involved to sanctions and liability.
The scope of these preservation and disclosure duties are broad. They apply to business-related electronic information wherever it is stored – at a College work station, on a laptop or PDA, and even at an employee’s home. The information at issue includes all forms of electronic communications and records such as e-mail, word processing, calendars, voice messages, videos, photographs, and other digital information.
Although these legal duties require that information must be preserved, the preserved information need not be disclosed to the requestor without first being appropriately reviewed to be sure that legally privileged information is removed. In other words, the College and its attorneys still can and will take steps to see that information that is legally protected will not be disclosed to the requesting party.
It is worth noting that the rules concerning preservation of hard copies of records have not changed. All printed documents under the control of involved individuals must also be preserved. Also, the new rules do not require the College to change any general records retention policies.
Electronic Discovery Committee
To help meet its obligations, the College uses an Electronic Discovery Committee, made up of representatives from:
- The Attorney General’s Office
- College Risk Management
- Information Technology
- Records Officer
- The Public Records Office
- Human Resources, as appropriate
As discussed below, this committee will serve as a resource to assist the College’s management of these issues consistent with applicable laws and College policies.
The Landscape of District Electronic Records Systems
When the College determines that there is a reasonable anticipation of litigation, responsive electronic records may include e-mail generated or retained by College employees, whether maintained on the College servers or copied in “local folders,” on their individual desktop, or laptop or other “client machine.” In fact, e-mail messages may be stored locally instead of – or in addition to – being kept on an e-mail server.
In addition to e-mails, College faculty and staff create and use a myriad of other electronic materials ranging from traditional word-processing documents and spreadsheets to databases, digital images, audio, video, web pages, instant messages, blogs, calendars, technical drawings and more. While many records are stored on network servers that the College can monitor, individual users are often able to store them (or copy or move them) to individual desktop and portable devices that are beyond the College’s field of observation or control.
The College Maintains a system of tapes or other storage media that periodically copy the system’s data to enable the system and its contents to be restored in the event of an emergency. This backup system recycles the storage tapes on a regular basis. For normal preservation purposes, emergency recovery copies of data are not practically accessible and interrupting their recycling would be impractical and expensive. As a result, such disaster recovery systems will usually be considered outside the scope of a Notice of Records Preservation, unless otherwise directed.
As required by RCW 40.14.040, the College Records Officer manages and oversees College compliance with state and federal laws and regulations relating to the preservation and destruction of electronic and paper information.
Special Preservation of Records
When a lawsuit is filed – or reasonably anticipated – the College must take special precautions to prevent the loss of potentially-relevant electronic data. Unless circumstances require a different approach, the following protocol will be followed.
- Document Preservation Plan
When a lawsuit is commenced against the College – or information is received such that a lawsuit is reasonably anticipated – the lead unit (typically, Risk Management, Human Resources, or the Assistant Attorney General assigned to the College) should develop a Preservation Plan outlining the immediate steps that need to be taken. The plan should generally include some or all of the following steps:
a. Identify the operating unit and individuals who might possess potentially relevant electronic data.
b. Send a Litigation Hold to the individuals identified.
c. Designate a specific person to coordinate and serve as a contact.
Where the matter is complex or unusual, the following steps may also be considered:
a. Gather a summary of the hardware and software involved.
b. Determine whether more aggressive steps (such as “imaging” or sequestering computers, stopping rotation of disaster recovery tapes, or taking snapshots of network folders) are warranted.
c. Establish a method for following up, which may include sending out reminders, conducting preservation compliance checks, and addressing new questions or issues from agency employees with potential evidence.
The Electronic Discovery Committee should be consulted for assistance with any questions about an appropriate Preservation Plan.
2. Litigation Hold
A Litigation Hold will typically include:
a. A definition of what constitutes a “record” and direct owners of potentially-relevant records to preserve them from destruction or modification.
b. Direction to preserve relevant electronic records and general information on how to do so. This may include directing the administrator(s) of relevant system(s) to avoid any centralized or automatic destruction or alteration of such records,
c. Identification of the categories of information to be preserved,
d. Contact information for the attorney(s), risk management professional, College technology or other IT professional, and any other contacts.
3. Responsibility of Persons Receiving a Litigation Hold
Receipt of a Litigation Hold does not necessarily mean the recipient is directly involved in the matter. Rather, it means the potential evidence which the College must preserve may be in the person’s possession or scope of responsibility and that the person, as an employee of the College, must immediately take reasonable steps to preserve such information. In particular, the person must:
a. Suspend any College or divisional policies or procedures that might call for the routine destruction of electronic records under the recipient’s control.
b. Discontinue personal practices regarding the deletion of electronic records. For example, the deletion of possibly-relevant e-mails, voice mails, drafts of documents, and the like must also be suspended.
c. Disable any “janitorial” functions, such as the automatic deletion of e-mails or other electronic records. The designated computer support person should be immediately contacted if assistance is required to disable such functions.
d. Protect and preserve all potentially relevant electronic records in their original electronic form so that all information within it, whether visible or not is available for inspection. In other words, electronic records must be preserved, regardless of whether they have also been reduced to a hard-copy or whether a hard-copy already exists.
e. Protect and preserve any hard-copies of electronic records.
f. Protect and preserve any new documents that are generated or received that may be relevant to the litigation after receipt of a Litigation Hold.
g. Advise the designated IT representative of any personal information that may potentially be affected by the Litigation Hold.
h. Follow all other specific instructions in the Litigation Hold.
I. Consult with the designated contact person regarding any questions involving electronic records.
4. Litigation: Actual or “Reasonably Anticipated”
The obligation to preserve potential evidence arises most suddenly when a lawsuit has already been filed. However, the obligation can also arise when one knows — or should know — that future litigation is “reasonably likely.” Determining when facts or circumstances are reasonably likely to lead to litigation requires a case-by-case understanding of the facts and the application of experience and professional judgment.
Factors to consider in deciding whether litigation is “reasonably foreseeable” or “reasonably likely” include:
a. Historical Experience: Look at whether similar situations have led to litigation in the past.
b. Filed Complaints: Be aware of complaints filed with the College or an enforcement
agency, which may indicate a likelihood of future litigation.
c. Significant Incidents: Pay attention to events resulting in known and significant injury.
d. Attorney Statements: Examine any statements by an individual’s attorney regarding a dispute with the College.
e. Employee Statements: Consider statements by College employees and officials regarding the potential of litigation.
f. Initiation of Dispute Resolution Procedures: Give considerable weight to an action by a contractor to initiate a dispute resolution clause in a contract.
g. Public Disclosure Requests: Consider whether a public disclosure request suggests the likelihood of future litigation. Although the College routinely receives public disclosure requests that are unrelated to litigation, some reasonably foreshadow a lawsuit.
h. Event Reported in the Press: Take stock of particularly bad events that are reported in the press, where history suggests litigation is likely.
I. Common Sense: Use your powers of observation of human behavior and common sense. If an unfortunate or bad event occurs, especially if it is an unusual event or causes significant damage or distress, it may be reasonably anticipated that litigation will follow.
j. Risks & Rewards: If the situation is uncertain, consider the relative costs of preservation against the likelihood of future litigation. Also consider the risks associated with the possibility of sanctions if preservation efforts are not undertaken.
5. Ending Preservation Responsibilities
When the litigation, or the threat of litigation that prompted the Litigation Hold, has ended, the person issuing the Litigation Hold will inform those who received the notice that they are no longer under any special obligations to preserve the identified categories of materials. At that point, only the College’s normal retention schedules will apply to the documents. The Office of Risk Management and the College’s attorneys will be responsible for applying their own special retention schedules for “litigation” records.
Retrieval of Electronic Records for Discovery
In most cases, the need to actually produce preserved electronic records will come weeks or months after the preservation has occurred. When the College receives a request from an opposing party for production (“discovery”) of electronic records, the College’s counsel and primary College contact (Risk Management, Attorney General’s Office or other unit) will determine the best approach to take in order to efficiently produce a complete and accurate response. The response may consist of any or all of the following: (1) supplying the requested information, (2) attempting to obtain a modification of the request (e.g., by narrowing the request’s scope or obtaining agreement as to specific search terms), (3) declining to provide some or all of the requested data based upon expense of production, or other basis, (4) conferring with the Electronic Discovery Committee.
The Electronic Discovery Committee is available for consultation on such issues.
- Options for Records Retrieval
Where some or all of the requested records must be retrieved, reviewed, and potentially disclosed, the following options should be considered in selecting the best approach to the specific request:
a. Relying on the Computer User: In many instances, it is reasonable and sufficient to simply ask the computer user to identify, copy, and provide potentially-responsive electronic records and to certify that these steps have been taken. In these instances, the production of electronic data resembles the typical production of physical documents.
b. Enlisting College Technical Support: Sometimes the system administrator or other College technical support personnel will directly retrieve the responsive records due to particular concerns about an individual user’s time, skill, or dependability in identifying the universe of responsive records. Such personnel are often able to bring to bear sophisticated tools for searching and extracting large volumes of responsive records.
c. Using Outside Consultants: Where identification or recovery of records requires technical expertise beyond that readily available from internal resources, an outside firm may be called upon for some or all of the work.
2. Factors to Consider in Records Retrieval
a. Thoroughness: The approach in a specific case needs to be reasonably calculated to gather all potentially relevant records.
b. Operational Efficiencies: The activities required should be operationally efficient to ensure timely preservation and processing of the data.
c. Individual Privacy: The processes implemented to respond to electronic discovery must take into account personal privacy concerns.
d. Risk of Data Loss: Reasonable steps will be needed to protect data from loss through inadvertent or intentional deletion of files or loss of data storage media.
e. Individual Disruption: Procedures should take into account potentially significant impacts in terms of time and effort for individuals named in the lawsuit.
f. Procedural Consistency: The College will require that procedures developed to meet these new rules are consistently followed and executed.
3. Post-Retrieval Review
As potentially-responsive electronic records are gathered, they will be provided to the College attorneys for further processing.
4. Post-Production Duties
Preservation and production of information related to a lawsuit does not end with an initial production of records. Potentially relevant records generated after the Litigation Hold must be preserved for possible future retrieval.
New Policy/Procedure Approved by Executive Cabinet
April 7, 2009
420.015 WORKPLACE SAFETY AND DISCLOSURE OF PUBLIC RECORDS CONCERNING EMPLOYEE WORKPLACE SEXUAL HARASSMENT OR STALKING
Clark College affirms its commitment to freedom from harassment in the workplace, as outlined in Administrative Procedure 622.000. To help foster workplace safety and protect its employees, Clark College establishes procedures governing Public Records Act (PRA) (chapter 42.56 RCW) access to certain college records concerning college employee claimants/victims of workplace sexual harassment and stalking (RCW 42.56.660 - 42.56.675).
Clark College employees operate in unique work environments in which there is a higher level of transparency surrounding their daily work activities. The college is committed to protecting the health and safety of employees, but even more so when employees become the victims of sexual harassment or stalking. Recognizing that if an employee is the target of sexual harassment or stalking, there is a significant risk to the employee's physical safety and well-being, and protecting against the inappropriate use of public resources to carry out actions of sexual harassment or stalking, Clark College will restrict disclosure and/or notify any employee victims of workplace sexual harassment or stalking when the college receives a request for certain records concerning the college employee claimants/victims, as provided in the Public Records Act (PRA) (RCW 42.56) and this policy.
College employee means any person who qualifies, or former employee who qualified, as an employee at Clark College.
Claim (of workplace sexual harassment or stalking) means (1) a formal complaint filed pursuant to Clark College’s reporting options as outlined in the college’s policies and procedures, and/or (2) less formal complaints reported to college personnel who have the responsibility as part of their job duties to follow-up on the allegations.
Claimant means a person who filed or made a claim of alleged workplace sexual harassment or stalking or is named as a victim.
Discipline means an authorized employment compliance directive or decision under college policies and procedures, addressing employee misconduct, imposed upon the alleged harasser/stalker, including but not limited to reductions in pay, suspensions, demotions, and dismissals.
HR means Human Resources Department staff.
Immediately with respect to providing notice means no later than five business days, if feasible. The time to provide notice may be adjusted depending upon the circumstances.
Indirectly with respect to providing records means providing records to persons acting on behalf of an alleged harasser/stalker and who are making PRA requests --- including but not limited to an attorney, union representative, other legal representative or agent. Other persons may be included as persons acting on behalf of an alleged harasser/stalker, depending upon the circumstances, such as a relative of the requester, or organizations that make PRA requests on behalf of individuals or persons.
Investigation means when a person authorized by Clark College is gathering facts and evidence on behalf of the college to determine whether a claim can be substantiated. Depending upon the circumstances, an investigation might be conducted by Human Resources Department staff, a supervisor, an outside investigator, or other authorized person.
Issued means discipline that has been dispensed and/or imposed by a person with authority as part of their job duties to issue and/or levy the discipline, typically in writing.
List of college employees means a list of college employees who are named as victims in workplace sexual harassment or stalking claims, prepared pursuant to RCW 42.56.675 and in order to administer RCW 42.56.660.
PRO means the Clark College Public Records Officer or designee.
PRR means “public records request” which is a request for records submitted under the Public Records Act. A request will be referred to in this policy as a PRR, or a PRA request.
Public Records Act (PRA) means chapter 42.56 RCW.
Records concerning a college employee means public records, the contents of which have to do with an identifiable and specific Clark College employee, and which relate to the employee’s employment status as a particular individual. The records primarily concern the employee as an employee, not the employee’s division or general work. Other public records concerning a college employee that could be used to “carry out actions of sexual harassment or stalking” may be included. “Records concerning a college employee” do not include work product created by the employee as part of their official duties.
Stalking is defined under civil or criminal laws, including but not limited to RCW 9A.46.110 (criminal stalking), RCW 7.92.020 (stalking conduct). Stalking includes engaging in a course of conduct directed at a person that serves no legitimate purpose and seriously alarms, annoys or intimidates the person.
Victim means a person who, in a claim, is alleged to have been the target of workplace sexual harassment or stalking. A victim can be the claimant or other persons listed in the claim as additional alleged victims.
Workplace sexual harassment means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when any one of three criteria is met:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment.
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual.
- Such behavior has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. (29 CFR Section 1604.11)
ACTIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The following employees have these responsibilities under this policy:
- Public Records Officer or Designee (PRO):
Under this policy, the Public Records Officer (PRO) and/or the PRO’s designee(s) will take these steps.
Step 1. Upon receipt of a PRA request (PRR) seeking records concerning a Clark College employee claimant/victim who was targeted for workplace harassment or stalking and governed by RCW 42.56.660 - .675, the PRO will determine if:
(a) the college received a claim concerning the alleged harassment or stalking and there is a claimant or victim,
(b) the college conducted an investigation as a result, and
(c) the college issued discipline upon a college employee as a result.
(d) The PRO will also determine if the request seeks a list of names of employee claimants/victims maintained by the college in order administer RCW 42.56.660.
The PRO may need to consult with Human Resources Department or supervisory staff, and/or the claimant or victim, or other relevant staff including legal counsel, to ascertain this information.
Step 2. If the answer to all three in (a) – (c) of Step 1 is “yes” the PRO will make reasonable efforts to determine the true identity of the requester, and then proceed to Step 3. If the answer to (d) is “yes”, the college will not disclose the list of names pursuant to RCW 42.56.675.
If the answer to any of (a) – (c), or separately for (d), in Step 1 is “no” the PRO will skip Step 3 and proceed to Step 4.
Step 3. After the PRO makes reasonable efforts to determine the true (actual) identity of the requester, the PRO will proceed to A or B below, whichever is relevant.
- REQUESTER IS HARASSER/STALKER. If the PRO reasonably verifies that the requester is the person alleged to have harassed or stalked the college employee claimant/victim the records will not be released to the requester under RCW 42.56.660(1), unless the college receives a valid court order requiring release or written consent for release by the claimant or victim. The PRO will cite RCW 42.56.660(1) as the exemption from disclosure, along with other relevant exemptions (if any).
If the PRO believes the requester is or may be acting on behalf of the alleged stalker/harasser, or intends to use the requested records to harass or stalk the college employee claimant/victim, the PRO will consult with legal counsel.
The PRO will work with the Director of Compliance to inform the employee of their right to provide written consent to disclosure of the requested records, if the employee has not yet provided or refused consent. The college may place a copy of any signed consent form in the employee’s personnel file and the specific PRR file.
The PRO may also give notice of the PRR to the employee claimant/victim under RCW 42.56.540.
- REQUESTER IS NOT HARASSER/STALKER. If the PRO reasonably verifies that the requester is someone other than the alleged harasser/stalker (or someone not covered by A. above), the PRO will immediately give notice of the PRR to the employee claimant/victim under RCW 42.56.660(2)(b), unless the employee/claimant consented in writing to waiver of such notice and thus also agrees to the release of the requested records concerning the employee.
The PRO will inform the employee that absent a court order enjoining the college from disclosing records, the records will be disclosed unless exempt under some other law (other than RCW 42.56.660).
The PRO will provide the employee a date by which the college must receive notice that the employee has initiated any court action to enjoin disclosure. Except for the college’s five-day response letter required in RCW 42.56.520, the PRO will suspend further processing of the part of the request for these records covered by RCW 42.56.660 during the pendency of the court action, and will not disclose those records during that time. RCW 42.56.660(2)(b). The PRO will continue to process any other parts of the request, including review of the requested records that may be exempt under other laws.
- If the PRO does not receive notice that the employee initiated an action under RCW 42.56.660 seeking to enjoin disclosure by the date set by the PRO, the PRO will continue to process the PRA request and may consider other relevant exemptions from disclosure (if any), prior to any release of the requested records. For example, certain college investigative records concerning harassment in employment are also addressed in the exemption at RCW 42.56.250(6).
- If the PRO timely receives a valid court order enjoining disclosure following this notice, the college will follow the terms of the court order, and/or seek review or clarification, if necessary.
- If the employee’s action seeking an injunction is dismissed without the court granting an injunction, and absent a stay, the PRO will continue to process the PRR and may consider other relevant exemptions from disclosure (if any), prior to any release.
Step 4. If the answer to (a) - (c), or separately for (d), in Step 1 is “no” the PRO may give notice of the PRA request to the employee under RCW 42.56.540, using the same third party notice procedures the college uses with other PRA requests.
The PRO may take other reasonable steps and provide other notices with respect to a particular PRR.
- Employee Claimant/Victim of Workplace Sexual Harassment or Stalking:
Under this policy, a college employee who is a claimant/victim of workplace sexual harassment or stalking must cooperate with the PRO as needed for the college to process a PRA request (PRR) for the records concerning the employee that are addressed in RCW 42.56.660 - .675.
This cooperation includes but is not limited to:
- Immediately notifying the PRO if the employee becomes aware the requester is the alleged harasser/stalker, someone acting on behalf of the alleged harasser/stalker, or a person who intends to use the requested records or information in the requested records to harass, stalk, threaten, or intimidate that college employee.
- Complying with any deadlines set by the PRO to provide information needed by the college to process the request.
- Immediately, by no fewer than 5 days prior to the court hearing, notifying the PRO if the employee has initiated a court action to enjoin disclosure. The employee must provide sufficient notice to the PRO of the court proceeding under the relevant court rules and procedures.
- Immediately providing the PRO and the Attorney General’s Office representing the college a copy of any court order and all pleadings relevant to the PRR.
- Providing written consent to the PRO to disclosure of the requested records to the alleged harasser/stalker if the employee has no objection to their release.
- Other actions identified by the PRO or college, which are needed to process the PRR or respond to court actions concerning the request.
If the college employee who is a claimant/victim has concerns about release of the records which are being sought through procedures outside the PRA (discovery, subpoenas, etc.), the employee should promptly notify the PRO and the college’s legal counsel. The employee may also need to consult with private legal counsel.
- Human Resources Department Staff Including Workplace Claim Investigators:
Under this policy, Human Resources Department staff, including workplace safety claim investigators, will familiarize themselves with RCW 42.56.660 - .675.
List. If staff maintain a list of employee claimants/victims of workplace sexual harassment or stalking disciplined by the college, staff will promptly notify the PRO.
Investigations. When contacting and interviewing workplace harassment and stalking claimants and victims, investigators are encouraged to review public records issues. Depending upon the circumstances, investigators may wish to notify the claimant/victim of the procedures for written consent for disclosure upon a future receipt of a PRR, if such consent has not been previously provided. A claimant/victim could provide consent to release in the college’s response to a future PRR request of otherwise non-disclosable records from the alleged harasser/stalker, for records covered by RCW 42.56.660 - .675.
PRRs. If the college receives a PRR for records covered by RCW 42.56.660 - .675, HR staff will work with the PRO if needed to inform the employee claimant/victim of their right to consent to disclosure of such records to the alleged harasser/stalker unless notice has been previously waived in writing by the employee claimant/victim (thus the employee has also consented to release). HR staff will also work with the PRO to provide notice of a PRR request for records covered by RCW 42.56.660 -.675 if needed when the request is made by someone other than the alleged harasser/stalker.
Consent Forms. The college may place a copy of any signed consent form in the employee’s personnel file and the specific PRR file.
New Policy/Procedure Approved by Executive Cabinet
July 28, 2020