The San Diego Unified School Board is set to vote tonight on a new email retention policy that would result in the purging of emails older than a year from district servers. Going forward, the policy would also rely on employees to decide which emails are and aren’t public records.
San Diego SPJ has repeatedly raised concerns about the district’s lack of transparency and, in June, met with two of the district’s top public information officers to discuss how to improve access to information. We also discussed the proposed email policy.
While we appreciate the board’s vote last month to delay implementing new email retention rules pending a review of district public records policies, we have concerns with some of the recommendations the board will consider tonight.
Other large school districts in California retain emails for two years in the interest of transparency. This includes Los Angeles, Long Beach, Fresno and Elk Grove unified school districts. (While today’s staff report indicates Elk Grove doesn’t have an email retention policy, we personally confirmed that they retain emails for two years.) We urge the board to take this into consideration and also require staff to consult with outside public records experts to ensure employees have proper training on what constitutes a public record.