We're finally rolling out email archiving this summer for all users to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure related to ediscovery processes. A bit behind the times, but who isn't on this one? We all acknowledge that it has to happen and the unions can't even give us fits over "changes in working conditions" or violations of privacy, since, well, it's the law.
However, we can't just start archiving, right? We need to let everyone know that all of their emails will be accessible (or "discoverable" in legalese) indefinitely. Similarly, we need to let the people with whom district employees correspond know that their emails with also be archived. This part isn't actually a big deal; it's nothing that a few memos and a well-placed standard signature line on emails can't cure.
What is more challenging is getting people to stop using their Gmail and Hotmail accounts for any school-related correspondence. When I first started talking about this last year, invariably, the first question users asked was, "So I shouldn't use my school email account for anything, right?" Ugh. Obviously, for archiving to be effective without implementing seriously expensive and intrusive solutions, users need to actually use their school-sanctioned email accounts.
This is where the real work needs to happen on an email archiving policy. Our users must understand the importance of the archiving and the potential consequences of an untoward statement made using their Gmail account. Worse yet, imagine a teacher corresponding with a student via Hotmail. Now imagine that same student, or their parent, accusing the teacher of misconduct. Here is a case in which the teacher would most certainly want the conversations with the student to be discoverable.
Archiving is for everybody's protection. Policies that enforce appropriate use of the Internet, as well as school-sanctioned, archived methods of communication need to communicate this importance.