A key component of any academic honesty matter is the documentation created or collected to support the investigation and proceedings. The Senate Policy on Academic Honesty provides direction on what and where documentation should be retained once the matter is settled. This tip sheet consolidates and elaborates on the Policy’s documentation sections.
Files should be maintained according to York’s Common Records Schedule which sets out what records to keep and for how long depending on the outcome of the academic honesty matter. It also provides file classifications. The relevant classes for academic honesty matters are:
STU36 Academic Honesty – Case Files
STU36-05 Academic Honesty – No Finding – Case Files
The Secretary of the body investigating academic honesty cases is responsible for ensuring that official documentation is filed appropriately, held for the specified retention period, and disposed of in accordance with the Policy and the Common Records Schedule.
What to Keep and When to Dispose
Exploratory meetings at the unit level
Keep one copy for one year after a hearing has resulted in a finding of misconduct. Do not keep files or records of any kind if all parties agree that no breach of academic honesty has occurred.
Where records are destroyed, make sure this includes email as well as hardcopy and electronic files. See Tip Sheet 7: Secure Destruction of Records for advice on how to destroy records confidentially.
Formal hearings at the Faculty level
When a matter proceeds to a Faculty committee, the official record is retained in the Office of the Dean of the student’s home Faculty. (The Registrar’s Office keeps certain documentation if the decision rendered is reflected on the student’s transcript.)
All other records should be destroyed one year after all appeals are exhausted or abandoned. This includes any copies held by members of committees hearing the case, or by other Faculties.
Keep Records Confidential
The academic honesty process is highly confidential, and all parties should handle records and information in a confidential manner. Hold files in a secure area, limit the distribution of materials to those who are authorized or have a need to know, ensure the security of material distributed by email or accessible on a website or shared drive, and require that copies provided to panels and committees are retrieved and/or confidentially destroyed once the case has been heard. Except for the temporary purpose of preparing for, hearing, or participating as a witness in a hearing under the Academic Honesty policy, no more than one copy of a file should be retained.
Avoid using email for discussing sensitive issues. Email messages are easily misdirected, or may be inappropriately forwarded to parties with no right to the information.
For techniques on how to handle confidential records, see Tip Sheet 2: Confidential Records.
Remind Students to Protect Confidential Information
Students who are the subject of an academic honesty hearing will be provided with certain documentation, including a copy of the materials submitted by the faculty member as evidence. Such documentation should be prepared in such a way that personal information of other students or individuals is not included (such as other students’ student numbers, home addresses, grades) unless it is a critical part of the evidence.
Students who are made privy to confidential information of other individuals should be reminded that they have a responsibility to protect the privacy of those other individuals by taking care not to disclose it.
Access to Information Considerations
Remember that all records—paper or electronic (including email)—that are created or maintained by university staff and faculty in the course of handling academic honesty cases may be subject to a FIPPA request. Therefore create records with access in mind and in doing so,
- create only what is needed to accomplish a task or meet a requirement
- remember that any record acquired under a FIPPA request could be disclosed publicly
This document has been developed to assist in establishing good practices and procedures. Additional information on FIPPA and recordkeeping can be found on the Information and Privacy Office’s website. For questions about FIPPA, please contact the Information and Privacy Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (416) 736-2100 x20359. For general questions about the Academic Honesty process, please contact the University Secretariat at (416) 736-5310.