According to our district Retention Policy, all emails are “archived automatically without additional action by the user.” All electronic records subject to retention must be preserved on paper if the retention period is greater than 10 years. Electronic records whose retention period is less than 10 years shall be archived electronically in a manner which provides easy access and retrieval. .. includes attachments, old/new webpages, videos, floppy discs, Cd’s, audiotpaes and videotapes.

The policy also includes that each department have a Custodian of Records and that the Custodian of Records and IT department should know what records the Department makes or receives, who makes or receives records, when they can/should be destroyed, where they are stored, and how they can be stored.

A “NOTE To Staff” in this policy states: “.. .mail that the user wishes to save be moved out of the email system into your home directory as soon as possible”.. and recommended that “you do not store emails beyond the retention period”.

A Notice from Central office as a “reminder” was delivered that emails will be deleted on the 30th. If records are public record, to forward them to the custodian of records.
.. we were recently told that no one can hold onto their own emails by storing them in their own way, such as a flash drive etc.. Many cannot come to an agreement on what “public record” is. According to Mass law, it appears everything is. So therefore, we should forward all of our emails to the custodian, all of our papers etc.. that is a lot of emails.

The IT department feels they “have to” delete the emails. It is NOT a server space issue. If they “Have to” delete them based on the policy, but if retention needs to be a period of extended years, then this doesn’t seem to make sense. Furthermore, why couldn’t a teacher keep specific emails they seem necessary for organization, referral for the future etc.. Example: Emails deleted on the 30th. A parent who contests the grade may have been delayed in doing so for whatever reason. If the teacher is then asked to state their case, the teacher might have trouble remembering whether or not he/she had corresponded appropriately with the parent during the semester/year.

On one side, we need to ensure that the content is readily available if litigation has warranted the need for it. On the other, we don’t want confidential information to be exposed when not intended.

It is clear that the laws are slow to include electronic-specific details. This is the first year emails are being deleted this way. We have been advised not to write anything sensitive in an email right along. Personally I find this hard. Not only would that slow communication, I may take notes on a particular phone call to a parent or guidance counselor. I would think an email is a bit more transparent in litigation.

There seems to be a major push in this direction and this has made these past couple of weeks very stressful. One week left of school, and two till the 30th deadline. We need to clear this up. Can we or can we not store our emails however we wish as long as the emails are archived by our IT? Is it necessary to delete everyone's emails in such a way?
Any suggestions, thoughts, would be appreciated.

Tags: Retention, archive, electronic, emails, law, retention

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