Kent City Community Schools
Administrative Guidelines
 

7540.05 - PROPER USE OF E-MAIL ACCOUNT

Depending on the content of an e-mail message, it may be a public record or an educational record that needs to be maintained by the District in accordance with Policy 8310 – Public Records or Policy 8330 – Student Records, and made available for inspection and/or copying upon request by a member of the public, or a parent or student age eighteen (18) or older. In addition, an e-mail may constitute electronically stored information that is subject to a Litigation Hold pursuant to Policy 8315 – Information Management. The following procedures are established so that the District’s e-mail and Internet capabilities are not compromised, and e-mail messages are maintained in accordance with State and Federal law.

OPERATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS:

 

A.

Types of E-Mail Prohibited

   
 

1.

General Rule: Do not put anything in an e-mail that you would not put on School District letterhead.

   
 

2.

Do not use the District’s e-mail system to send announcements such as the following:

   
 

a.

parties,

   
 

b.

items for sale

   
 

3.

Do not forward or start e-mails with the following:

   
 

a.

jokes,

   
 

b.

pictures, or

   
 

c.

similar fun forwards intended to amuse the reader

   
 

4.

Do not subscribe to the following through your District e-mail account:

   
 

a.

daily jokes,

   
 

b.

daily horoscopes,

   
 

c.

daily recipes,

   
 

d.

vacation information, or

   
 

e.

similar items of information or amusement.

   
 

Please use your own personal e-mail account for such items.

   
 

5.

Do not respond to chain letters via your District e-mail account. These letters often come from outside sources, which increase the risk of e-mail based virus infection. Such e-mails multiply exponentially, and cost the District in terms of time, money and resources.

   
 

6.

Do not use your District e-mail account to communicate with friends and family throughout the work day, except in case of emergency and when they cannot be reached by telephone.

   
 

B.

Proper Use of the Distribution Lists in the District’s Global Address Book

   
 

1.

When using a District-wide or building-wide distribution list, all members of that group should be intended targets. Distribution lists are only to be used when it is necessary to convey information to every member of a group. This includes all distribution lists.

   
 

2.

It is your responsibility to know to whom your information will be sent if you choose to utilize a District-wide or building-wide distribution list. Descriptions of the groups are located on the District’s Intranet at www.kentcityschools.org.

   
 

C.

Signature Blocks

   
 

1.

E-mail messages from employees must contain the following signature block:

   
 

Employee’s Name

   
 

Position/Title

   
 

Building; Address; Phone Number

   
 

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This message may contain confidential information, including, but not limited to, student personally identifiable information. Such information is intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, printing, distribution, or the taking of any action in reliance on the contents of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited. If you receive this e-mail message in error, please immediately notify me by telephone at 616-678-7714 to arrange for the return of the original document to me. Please also delete the message from your computer. Thank you.

   
 

2.

Employees’ signature blocks may not include quotes, regardless of the source (e.g., no quotes from famous historical figures, Biblical figures, or anyone else).

PUBLIC RECORD CONSIDERATIONS:

E-mail messages that are kept by the District and that serve to document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the District are public records, unless they meet one of the statutory exceptions, and must be maintained in accordance with the Board’s Records Retention Policy and made available for inspection and/or copying by the public. The length of retention of an e-mail message is dependent upon its content and the purpose it serves. The content, transactional information, and any attachments associated with an e-mail message are considered a record if they meet the statutory criteria.

Any document, including e-mail messages, which are responsive to a pending Freedom of Information Act request, must be retained.

For the purposes of this guideline, there are four (4) categories of e-mail retention: non-record messages, transitory messages, intermediate messages, and permanent messages.

 

A.

Categories of E-mail

   
 

1.

Non-Record Materials

   
 

E-mail messages that do not meet the criteria definition of a public record under the Michigan statutes may be deleted at any time, unless they become part of some official record as a result of special circumstances or must be preserved pursuant to Policy 8315 – "Information Management" and AG 8315 – "Litigation Hold Procedure." These types of messages may include:

   
 

a.

Personal Correspondence

   
 

Any e-mail not received or created in the course of District business, may be deleted immediately, since it is not an official record: the "Let’s do lunch" (not a District-business lunch) or "Can I catch a ride home" type of note.

     
 

b.

Non-District Publications

   
 

Publications, promotional material from vendors, and similar materials that are "publicly available" to anyone, are not official records unless specifically incorporated into other official records. In the electronic world, this includes listserv messages (other than those you post in your official capacity), unsolicited promotional material ("spam"), files copied or downloaded from Internet sites, etc.

   
 

These items may be immediately deleted, or maintained in a "Non-Record" mail box and deleted later, just as you might trash the unwanted publication or promotional flyer.

 
 

However, for example, if you justify the purchase of a "Zippo Filing System" by incorporating the reviews you saved (from the "Files R Us Listserv") in your proposal to your supervisor, those listserv messages become official records and must be retained in accordance with the retention schedule for purchasing proposals.

   
 

2.

Official Records – Retain As Required

   
 

E-mail messages that meet the definition of a public record under the Michigan statutes are official records and must be scheduled, retained and disposed of as such. These official records fall into the following categories:

   
 

a.

Transient Retention

   
 

Much of the communication via e-mail has a very limited administrative value. For instance, an e-mail message notifying employees of an upcoming meeting would only have value until the meeting has been attended or the employee receiving the message has marked the date and time in his/her calendar.

     
 

Transitory messages do not set policy, establish guidelines or procedures, certify a transaction or become a receipt. The informal tone of transitory messages might be compared to a communication that might take place during a telephone conversation or conversation in an office hallway. Transient documents include telephone messages, drafts and other limited documents that serve to convey information of temporary importance in lieu of oral communication. Transient documents should be retained in accordance with the Board’s Records Retention Policy and the Board's Information Management Policy.

   
 

b.

Intermediate Retention

   
 

E-mail messages that have more significant administrative, legal and/or fiscal value but are not scheduled as transient or permanent should be categorized under other appropriate record series. These may include (but are not limited to):

   
 

1)

General Correspondence: Includes internal correspondence (letters, memos); also, correspondence from various individuals, companies, and organizations requesting information pertaining to the District and legal interpretations and other miscellaneous inquiries. This correspondence is informative (it does not attempt to influence Board/District policy).

   
 

Retention: (See Records Retention Policy; ex. one (1) year, then destroy).

     
 

2)

Routine Correspondence: Referral letters, requests for routine information, or publications provided to the District, which are answered by standard form letters.

   
 

Retention: (See Records Retention Policy; ex. six (6) months, then destroy.)

   
 

3)

Monthly and Weekly Reports: Document status of on-going projects and issues; advise supervisors of various events and issues.

   
 

Retention: (See Records Retention Policy and Information Management Policy).

   
 

4)

Minutes of Staff Meetings: Minutes and supporting records documenting internal policy decisions.

   
 

Retention: (See Records Retention Policy and Information Management Policy).

   
 

c.

Permanent Retention

   
 

E-mail messages that have significant administrative, legal and/or fiscal value and are scheduled as permanent also should be categorized under the appropriate record series. These may include (but are not limited to):

   
 

1)

Executive Correspondence: Correspondence from the Superintendent, Treasurer, or other administrator that deals with significant aspects of the administration of their offices/buildings. Correspondence includes information concerning Board/District policies/guidelines, program, fiscal and personnel matters.

   
 

Retention: (See Records Retention Policy; and Information Management Policy).

   
 

2)

Departmental/Building Policies and Procedures: Includes published reports, unpublished substantive reports and policy studies.

   
 

Retention: (See Records Retention Policy and Information Management Policy).

   
 

Not all e-mail messages will fall into these record series. For more suggested retention periods, consult the Board’s Records Retention Policy.

     
 

B.

Mailbox Management

   
 

Guidelines and Best Practices for Managing E-Mail

   
 

1.

Record Copy E-Mail

   
 

E-mail users should be aware that e-mail messages are often widely distributed to a number of recipients. Determining which individual maintains the record copy of the message, i.e., the original message that must be retained per the retention schedule, is vital to e-mail management. If the holder of the record copy is not identified and aware of his/her responsibility, the District may find that no one retains the message or that everyone retains the message. Neither of these scenarios is appropriate.

   
 

For example, Board/District policy/guidelines documents that are transmitted to multiple recipients via an e-mail system need not be maintained by each recipient beyond his/her need for this information if record copy responsibility is established so that the record is maintained by some office, employee or agent for its established retention period. In this example, a logical record copy responsibility rests with the creator or original distributor of the policy/guideline document. Prompt deletion of duplicate copies of e-mail messages from an e-mail system makes the system as a whole much easier to manage and reduces disk space consumed by redundant information.

   
 

Generally speaking, the individual who sends an e-mail message should maintain the record copy of the message. However, the varied uses and wide distribution of e-mail may result in many exceptions to this rule that will have to be dealt with internally.

     
 

2.

Filing

   
 

Non-transitory e-mail messages should be filed in a way that enhances their accessibility and that facilitates records management tasks. The IT staff will advise users on the set up or modifying of e-mail systems to facilitate records management and appropriate filing systems. Procedures and systems configurations may vary according to the building’s/users’ needs and the particular hardware and software in use.

   
 

In addition to the IN and OUT boxes that come with your mail account, you usually have the option of creating other "mailboxes" or "folders". After brief periods in your IN-OUT boxes, messages should be transferred to other boxes, based on business and retention requirements.

   
 

Employees should be responsible for classifying messages they send or receive according to content, the District’s folder/directory structure, and established records series.

   
 

3.

Distribution Lists

   
 

If you send to a "distribution list" (not a listserv, but a specified list of individuals), you must also keep a copy of the members of that list for as long as you are required to keep the message itself. It is of little value to know that the "Security Alert!" notice went to "Building Principals", without knowing whether Arnold S. received the message. Nicknames present a similar problem.

   
 

C.

Mailbox Maintenance and Cleanup

   
 

1.

Each e-mail user is responsible for keeping his/her e-mail account at a manageable size.

   
 

2.

If you do not maintain your mailbox and permit its size to grow beyond the recommended levels, your mailbox could become corrupt. The District's staff is not responsible if the mailbox cannot be recovered do to lack of user maintenance.

     
 

3.

Your District e-mail account is not meant to be a storage folder. Before developing your personal mailbox maintenance and cleanup procedure, you must review the District's Public Records Policy, Information Management Policy, and any accompanying administrative guidelines to these policies. Any questions regarding these policies should be directed to the Superintendent.

     
 

4.

If you want to retain all e-mail items with your work records, you must implement a storage solution outside your e-mail account. Such records shall continue to be the Board's property and may not be removed from the Board's premises for any reasons.

© Neola 2010