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EHB - Electronic Records Retention

Policy EHB

Adopted: November 17, 2011
Amended: February 1, 2018

It is the policy of the Hopkinton Public Schools to comply with state and federal laws with respect to the retention of electronic records. For the purposes of this policy “users” will be defined as all school committee members, employees, students and members of the community using school equipment or district networks. State law provides that all governmental records that are generated, received, or maintained electronically, including computer records, web history, email, video, or audiotape are records subject to the Public Records Law. These records must be retained in an accessible format, capable of being reproduced or printed. Much district information is maintained in electronic form, which includes email, and must be available for a designated period of time in order to meet the district’s obligations under state and federal law.  Certain emails, although ordinarily transitory and not a primary mode of record keeping, must also be maintained in a way that allows for easy retrieval of pertinent messages. All electronic records of any type (public or non-public) are district-owned and may be subject to disclosure as part of a lawsuit. Users are urged to refrain from saying things in an email that they would not want produced as part of a public record disclosure or lawsuit.

Electronic records, including email and documents stored on any district electronic device or in any district-sponsored account, that are relevant to an investigation, claim, or litigation that is pending or likely to occur are subject to discovery and may not be deleted under any circumstances. The Superintendent or Director of Human Resources may put a litigation hold on any such records if necessary, in which case the Director of Technology will take appropriate steps to retain the information in a form that is searchable and safe from inadvertent or purposeful deletion.

Text messaging should not be used for district business, other than simple scheduling, meeting invitations, routine requests for information, thank you messages, etc.

Any document or email that contains information which is personally identifiable to a student may be part of that student’s record and must be managed per the Massachusetts Student Records Regulations and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to ensure that the district complies with records retention, confidentiality and security requirements.  Therefore, employees must establish files for electronic documents and emails in which to store any record pertaining to the student. These records may not be deleted when purging email or other records unless a paper copy is made and retained in accordance with district procedures. 

Employees, students and school committee members are provided a district email account, and are the custodians of, but not owners of, that account and, as such, have no right to privacy for messages sent or received.

District Emails - Retention Period 6 years
All sent or received emails are archived for at least six years. However, the length of time that an email message must be retained by the District depends on the content and purpose of the email and if there is a litigation hold or investigation.

Web History - Retention Period 30 days
Subject to limited exceptions, web history generally need only be maintained on District servers until its administrative use ceases, currently 30 days.

Video - Retention Period 30 Days
The district must retain all audio/visual tapes or digital recordings for a period of at least one month, however, if the recording relates to matters that may lead to or result in use of the recording for another purpose, such as an investigation or a disciplinary proceeding, the applicable record retention period is adjusted to reflect that new purpose.

Users should be aware that if they utilize personal email accounts to conduct district business, those email records will be considered public records subject to disclosure. The School Committee discourages the use of school accounts for personal uses, but recognizes that this sometimes occurs. Such use should be limited to non-working time and with the understanding that these emails are not private.

Employees, students, and school committee members are provided with electronic storage space that has a limited capacity. As with email messages, electronic files such as documents, spreadsheets, videos, photographs, audio files, web history, etc. must be identified, preserved and disposed of in a manner consistent with the procedures established by the Director of Technology.

Users should be aware that social media sites which contain communications sent to or received by district employees are subject to the same electronic records requirements as other electronic records.

When employees leave the district, regardless of reason (i.e., retirement, severance, or new job), their electronic files shall be maintained for six years so that they may be retrieved if necessary.

Hopkinton Public Schools may disclose education records to cloud-based service providers for the purpose of storing such records on behalf of the school under an exception which allows a district to disclose education records without consent to a contractor to whom the school district has outsourced institutional services or functions. 34 C.F.R. § 99.31(a)(l)(i)(B).

To manage the retention of electronic files, the Director of Technology shall develop and implement procedures to:

  • Retain and dispose of district records in a manner consistent with the Municipal Records Retention Schedule, and state and federal law;
  • Maintain the safety and security of files from system or individual computer failure, tampering, hacking, or deletion;
  • Ensure that the deletion of electronic records, when allowed, is permanent (particularly on computers, copiers, and storage devices that may be designated as surplus equipment);
  • Coordinate backup and retention of electronic files until they are no longer institutionally useful or have reached the end of the retention period;
  • Ensure that files are easily retrievable for investigations, claims, discovery, or other legal requirement;
  • Ensure continuous access to electronic files and email whenever equipment or software is upgraded or modified;
  • Provide training to all users at appropriate times such as upon hire or when new equipment or software is employed;
  • Ensure that users understand the provisions of this policy and their individual responsibilities under the policy;
  • Maintain and update data breach response procedures;
  • Review procedures annually.
Legal References:
M.G.L. c. 4, § 7(26)
M.G.L. c. 66, § 10 (2006 ed.)
M.G.L. c. 149, § 152C
M.G.L. c. 66, § 1 (2006 ed.)
950 CMR. 32.00 
603 CMR 3.12
603 CMR 23.00
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 26. Duty to Disclose, General Provisions Governing Discovery; Rule 34 Production of Electronically Stored Information
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g

Cross References:

IJNDB - Internet Acceptable Use
ED - Disposal of Surplus Property
JRA - Student Records

School Committee Policies