Public Records and Disposition of Records
As University employees, we are state employees and are subject to the Ohio Public Records law.
This means that generally every document we create, which documents the functions, operations, and activities of the University, is subject to release to the public. Public records include, but are not limited to, personnel files, salary and compensation information, faculty and staff disciplinary records, promotion and tenure records, contracts, and correspondence, in whatever medium or format including email, which documents University operations. (Our salaries have on occasion been published in the Mansfield News Journal.) A record that may be subject to release can be stored on any type of fixed medium including, but are not limited to, typed or handwritten material, videotapes, audiotapes, computer tapes, and email.
Given these broad parameters, we recommend against marking anything "confidential" because there is a very strong chance that it is not.
Public scrutiny means that anyone can approach a University employee and ask to examine and to obtain copies of public documents. We must not ask for identification of inquirers or demand reasons for their curiosity. We must respond to the request as soon as possible and in a helpful way. We must not make it appear that we are creating obstacles to their access.
If the request includes copies, we must make the copies in a reasonable time period and we can offer to mail the copies. We should not allow the originals to leave the premises. We can charge for copies at five cents per page, paid in advance.
All public records must be destroyed or disposed of according to the destruction schedule created by University Archives. For additional information, please see http://library.osu.edu/sites/archives/retention/records.php.
There are some limitations.
1. Among the kinds of records that are not public are student records (covered by the Federal Privacy Act), medical records (covered by Health Information Privacy Act), donor profiles, records covered by attorney-client privilege, and the intellectual property or trade secrets of University employees and/or the University.
2. We can ask that the request be reasonably specific.
3. We can review files and make appropriate redactions prior to release. That is, we can remove medical records, cross out social security numbers, etc.
4. We are not required to create records that do not exist, or to interpret or synthesize existing records. In other words, we are not obligated to create anything new.
In addition, under Ohio law, the University is required to adopt a public records policy for responding to public records requests. Ohio State's records policy can be found at the following site: http://legal.osu.edu/pdf/PublicRecordsPolicy.pdf .
Should you have questions about the release or destruction of records, please contact the Associate Dean's office for advice. It is appropriate to send the requestor to the Associate Dean's office. The handling of any request or the disposal of any record should be processed through the Associate Dean's office.