After 2-Year-Old Emails Detailing Impropriety Surface, Los Angeles School Board Votes To Limit Retention To One Year
from the accountability-is-for-the-little-people dept
In a set of strange coincidences not unlike those surrounding the IRS/Lois Lerner email disappearance, the Los Angeles Unified school board has decided it will only retain internal emails for one year going forward.
The Los Angeles Unified school board voted Tuesday to buy a Microsoft email archiving service programmed to automatically destroy staff emails after one year.
Why only one year? According to the Chief Information Officer of the school district, the one year limit is mandated by district policy — which is handy, but likely not the real reason. (Keeping all those bytes is considered “too expensive.”) After all, if this policy was already in force, why the vote on retention limits?
More likely, this decision was prompted by recent events — namely the publication of emails more than a year old.
The decision comes less than three weeks after KPCC published two-year-old internal emails that raised questions about whether Superintendent John Deasy’s meetings and discussions with Apple and textbook publisher Pearson influenced the school district’s historic $500 million technology contract.
A half-billion that ultimately went nowhere. Deasy allegedly cozied up to the companies before the district awarded them the tech contract, holding personal meetings with both a year before the plan went up for public bidding. The superintendent claimed he did nothing wrong (“discussed a pilot program that went nowhere”) but nevertheless cancelled the program three day after KPCC’s story went live.
What was implemented never worked properly, making this $500 million (which ultimately turned out to be $1.3 billion) project a complete washout.
The rollout of the iPad program has been plagued with problems, from unfinished software and stolen devices to insufficient wifi at most district schools.
This list doesn’t mention another factor, which almost killed the dubious program before it got off the ground: students were able to bypass the built-in protection systems in less than a week. Having already spent a great deal of public money, the school district is going back to the till by reopening the bidding process.
In order to head off future
expensive, badly-implemented plans public embarrassments, the district is cutting the public (and accountability) out of the loop. A one year time limit on internal emails is ridiculous in this age of cheap storage and processing power. The only possible motivation for this public reaffirmation of the “destroy after one year” policy is the elimination of some accountability. One year isn’t nearly enough time for investigators and journalists to know what they need, ask for it and have it returned. A two-year retention cycle proved to be damaging. The district is simply ensuring the same mistake won’t be made again.