Organizations operating in regulated industries are required to adhere to records retention regulations, and school districts are no exception. Educational institutions, just like any other business, increasingly rely on digital communication technologies for their day-to-day operation. From the compliance perspective, running a school is like running a business – inadequate management and archiving of electronic records, primarily email, can have serious consequences for educational institutions including fines, penalties and reputation damage.
Still, email archiving is rarely a top priority for school districts. There are other, more pressing issues that need to be addressed when you’re responsible for the future of the nation’s youth. Unlike other organizations, K-12 schools receive limited federal and state funding, and investing into email archiving is often a costly venture. For that reason, many organizations opt for third-party solutions or do nothing at all in order to avoid the high costs of establishing a digital data archive.
Main Drivers of Email Archiving for Schools
One of the relevant regulations that govern retention, storage and accessibility of all digital communications in the K-12 sector is Freedom of Information Act. According to FOIA and similar state Sunshine Laws, public schools, colleges, universities and other government agencies must make available all records, including those in the electronic format (email, IM, social media and mobile). Schools are typically required to keep complete student files for 10 years. FERPA is another federal law governs the access to educational information and records and may apply to electronic communication. A government agency can be fined up to $1000 a day if it fails to comply with a FOIA request.
In K-12 environment, there’s high potential for litigation. If a school becomes implicated in a lawsuit, federal agencies, courts or attorneys might request electronically stored information relevant to the case. Until recently, most schools stored their data on tapes, which means that administrators and the IT team have to organize extensive searches in order to produce the requested information in a timely manner. The biggest hurdle that schools face here is that electronic information can be located anywhere – on the school’s email server, in PST files, on backup tapes, or, in the worst-case scenario, on somebody’s personal device. Moreover, traditional backup methods are prone to errors and failures which might result in data loss or corruption. School that fail to provide the requested information to litigators, you might be found guilty of evidence spoliation, face colossal fines or even lose federal funding.Without email archiving, the biggest hurdle that schools face with ediscovery is that the ESI can be located anywhere. Click To Tweet
Finding the Best Email Archiving Solution for K-12
To choose your best fit, be aware that what’s best for other organizations might not be suitable for you and your needs. The key thing to remember is that you’re looking for the best system for you, not the solution with the most features of the highest technical specifications. What you need is a system which keeps the sensitive data you collect secure, which is easy to use and which fits in your budget structure.
Security, Control and Feature Set
In schools, digital correspondence often contains sensitive information about students and staff, so it’s important that your email system is secure. If you’re having a dilemma about whether to use a cloud-based or on-premise archiving system, be aware that one of the major advantages of an on-premise solution lies in the level of security involved. When you are the one in charge of the archiving process and when it takes place under your roof, the amount of oversight and control is much higher that with hosted solutions.
K-12 schools generally can’t afford full-time IT professionals, which makes the simplicity of record management a vital piece of the puzzle. An on-premise archiving solution is a device whose setup is normally done by the email archiving provider. Its upkeep doesn’t require much effort on the client side. Having your entire email compliance managed by simply turning on a small device that works in the background is a definite advantage of an in-house approach to information archiving. To sum up, the best email archiving solution for schools should be a system that can be used by anyone and which requires little or no training and maintenance effort. To work as a complete eDiscovery and compliance solution, your archiver of choice needs to be able to capture and index both future and legacy email.
Another advantage of in-house email archiving is the fact that it’s a one-time cost with a minimal recurring maintenance fee. On the other hand, a hosted solution involves a lower initial cost, but much higher ongoing costs, which quickly exceeds the total costs of establishing an in-house archive.
Jatheon is a global email, social media and mobile archiving company with 15 years of experience in the government and K-12 sectors. For more information about the benefits of archiving email in the education industry, check out this eBook. To learn how your school can manage archiving with Jatheon, get in touch with us and schedule your personal demo.