2.3.3 Use of Electronic Mail by School Board Members and Other School Officials
School Board members and school officials communicating by electronic mail must be cognizant of the fact that the state’s Open Meeting Law mandates that “public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens of this state by fully aware of and able to observe the performance of public officials and attend and listen to the deliberations that go into the making of public policy.” Further, if an email discusses school district business, it is considered a school district record, and is thus subject to provisions of not only the Open Meetings Law, but the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), and Local Government Records Law as well, even if the transmission occurs using a private email address.
Accordingly, school board members and school officials will be provided an official District email address to be used for school-related business. This will allow the District to maintain copies of emails by said individuals for the retention period required by law. Additionally, the use of school-provided email addresses should preclude the need to invade the privacy of a personal email account to order to respond to FOIL requests and/or subpoenas circumscribing school business-related communications.
In that school emails that school board members and officials send and receive in communication with other board members and officials are considered public records, such emails may only be deleted as permitted by law, as outlined in the State Education Department’s records retention and disposition schedule at: http://www.archives nyesed.gov/records/retention ed-1. Should a Board member or school official find it necessary to discuss school business using a personal email account, the Board Clerk should be included as a carbon copy (“cc”) so that the record may be appropriately retained.
In general, school board members and officials may freely exchange information, knowledge, or expertise via email, as long as the receipt of messages and responses does not result in a vote. A series of email communications between individual board members involving a vote or which results in a collective decision would be inconsistent with the Open Meetings Law. Such actions can only take place in a properly convened Board meeting.
All employees and authorized users of the District’s electronic mail system shall follow and acknowledge annually the District’s policies and regulations on acceptable use of computerized information resources, including email usage.
New York Public Officers Law 100
Open Meetings Law
Freedom of Information Law
NOTE: Refer also to Policies: # 3320 – Confidentiality of Computerized Information
# 5650 – Records Management
# 6410 – Staff Use of Computerized Information Resources