New Regulations Impact Maintenance of School Records

On February 9, amendments went into effect for the Downstate Local Records Commission, which oversees public records retention outside of Cook County. On February 11, similar amendments went into effect for the Local Records Commission of Cook County. The amendments are intended to reflect current technological best practices and also reduce the waiting period prior to the disposal of public records from 60 to 30 days.

School districts must seek permission to dispose of public records by filing aRecords Disposal Certificate with the applicable Local Records Commission listing all records targeted for disposal in advance of doing so. As before, disposal of such records may only proceed after a copy of that certificate has been reviewed and approved by the chairman of the applicable Local Records Commission and returned to the agency requesting disposal.

The amendments also contain comprehensive specifications concerning digital reproduction, storage andmanagement of electronic records. Of note, the new rules now specify there should be a minimum of two backup copies of all electronic records preserved for the length of scheduled retention. Relatedly, we understand that some districts have been told by officials from the Local Records Commission that they must now keep all video or electronic recordings for a mandatory 30-day retention period. However, the rules do not explicitly state this requirement.

The rules continue to allow “non-record material” to be destroyed at any time, such as transitory messages of short-term value. The rules give examples of such transitory materials, including e-mails, instant messaging (IM), text messaging (SMS), or paper correspondence containing reminders to employees about scheduled meetings or appointments; most telephone messages (whether in paper, voicemail or other electronic form); announcements of office events such as holiday parties or group lunches; and recipient copies of announcements of agency-sponsored events. However, the rules provide that whenever there is doubt that certain items are non-record materials, the district should consider them to be records until their status is determined.

School district IT administrators should carefully review these rules to ensure that their systems are in compliance with the new electronic records maintenance requirements. The rules and guidance are available online at:

https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/records_management/home.html.

If you have any questions regarding retention of records, please contact Steve Richart or Heather Brickman.

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