This post has been updated.
San Diego Unified School District will soon erase emails older than one year under new policies unanimously approved by school board trustees Tuesday night.
District officials may also wipe away older emails that journalists and members of the public are currently seeking through the California Public Records Act.
When the deletions will take place is not clear. No deletion date was announced, nor has the district’s legal team made any assurances that emails already being sought under Public Records Act requests will still be produced.
“We cannot guarantee that all of them will be completed by that date,” legal specialist Jeffrey Day wrote in a June 13 email, referring to staff’s original plan to delete nearly all emails older than six months on July 1 without a board vote or public discussion.
That the district might allow emails to disappear that were requested weeks and months before the new policy was enacted could subvert the very laws enacted to ensure the public can examine the conduct of public officials doing public business.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Just do some math and you will quickly see it's NOT about the money, but, some other agenda.
Google say emails run between 10 and 500KB in size. So, take 500KB, the big end of the range.
The District says, about 60,000,000 emails per year - ok, we agree on that.
500KB * 60M - converted to TeraBytes (TB) = 30 TB per year
You can store this amount of data in the cloud, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS - S3 and Glacier services), which have tools for longer archiving at a cheaper rate and active storage easily accessible by the District software, at less than 15.00 PER YEAR. A far cry from millions of dollars. In addition, AWS is highly scalable to meet the ever growing needs to archive and access going forward.
I call BS!!!!! There is no financial or logical reason to delete emails - period.
This news story reminded me of a H.L. Mencken quote:
“When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.”
It made me wonder if sometimes the converse is true:
“When somebody says it’s about the money, it’s not about the money.”
couple of points that might be good to keep in mind:
Clinton’s email deletion has probably caused more problems than she first
imagined (FBI probe and such). So it
might be good not to replicate it.
school district relies on bonds (and associated taxes) to pay for new school
facilities (requiring a public vote).
The more transparent the district’s operation and communication the more
trust the voters will have, and more likely future bonds approved. (i.e.
Proposition A did not pass).
if school district operation and decisions are not seen as reasonable and
transparent there is more likelihood that new education organization will be
tried, such as vouchers and expanded charter schools etc..
the school district should maintain good relations with news organizations
complying with public records requests for reasons 2 and 3 above to give the
public confidence that the district is making reasonable decisions.
This is all about covering your rear and making investigations difficult, not about being an effectively managed organization.
Anyone in business knows the value of old emails. How many times in the course of developing a process, launching something, or solving a problem are incremental changes made - often documented in email.
Fast forward several years when that particular thing needs to be touched again, and having that record of "what happened before" is instrumental in avoiding making the same mistakes, allowing one to start without having to re-invent several wheels.
In my case I often negotiated contracts that lasted for years, and the changes to those were circulated via email - so one might email a co-worker asking if a particular clause was worded in a way they liked, often raising concerns. Those concerns were then addressed and reflected in the final wording.
And then, years later, someone reads that clause and asks "why did we put that in?" or "why is it worded like that"?
You can then either rely on memory (hoping the original people involved are still there and remember) or recorded history - in the form of emails.
I once worked for a company that had a similarly stupid and shortsighted policy - but they were public and more afraid of lawsuits than of operating efficiently.
And, by the way, the smartest people there figured out ways around that - copying and pasting key emails into documents, exporting them to other systems, printing them to PDF, etc - there are plenty of ways.
The entire progress of human history is based on the invaluable nature of having written records - to pass down knowledge from "those who have it" to those who do not, without relying on memory or oral tradition.
Deleting old emails totally subverts that, and is a huge impediment to running an efficient organization.
Doing that simply because you're scared that some employee somewhere sent a DUMB email to someone else is equally dumb.
Let's all just go along with our government being even dumber than we think they already are, however - THERE's a solution for you...
Funny that sandiegounified.org's MX record points to Office 365. Curious what data they're housing for email if they're using a cloud service. Microsoft gives mailboxes a ton of storage out of the gate, plenty to last for years.