SAN DIEGANS FOR OPEN GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES INTENT TO SUE SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT OVER EMAIL DESTRUCTION POLICY

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By Miriam Raftery

August 1, 2017 (San Diego) -- A prominent attorney, Cory Briggs, has sent a letter to San Diego Unified School District’s Superintendent Cindy Marten expressing an intent to file a lawsuit after the school board voted to destroy emails after just one year.  Briggs says such action appears to violate state law requiring that all school district records, including electronic ones, be retained for at least three years. He also accuses the district of failing to comply in a timely manner with public records requests.

Society of Professional Journalists has previously voiced concerns over the districts shortened e-mail retention policy and nonresponsive to public records requests by media and/or the public.

Briggs has requested a settlement meeting.  Below is the full text of his letter:

BRIGGS LAW CORPORATION

San Diego Office:

4891 Pacific Highway, Suite 104

San Diego, CA 92110

Telephone: 619-497-0021

Facsimile: 909-949-7121

Inland Empire Office:

99 East “C” Street, Suite 111

Upland, CA 91786

Telephone: 909-949-7115

Facsimile: 909-949-7121

Please respond to: Inland Empire Office BLC File(s): 1593.99

26 July 2017

Cindy Marten, Superintendent Via Fax Only to 619-291-7182

San Diego Unified School District

4100 Normal Street

San Diego, CA 92103

Re: Notice of Intent to Sue; Request for Settlement Meeting

Dear Superintendent Marten:

On behalf of San Diegans for Open Government, I am writing to notify you of my

client’s intent to file a lawsuit against the San Diego Unified School District on at least two

grounds.

First, the governing board approved policies and regulations last night that appear to

violate state laws that require school district’s to retain every record – including electronic

records – for at least three years after being deemed a “disposable record.” See, e.g., CAL.

CODE OF REGS., tit. 5, § 16020 et seq.; cf. GOV’T CODE § 6200 (criminalizing public officer’s

adverse treatment of public agency’s records). The District’s approach to retaining and

destroying some electronic documents after just one year does not comply with the law.

Second, the District has developed a pattern and practice of not timely disclosing nonexempt

public records to members of the public who ask for them. Many requesters are

forced to wait well over a month for responsive public records, even though public records

may be examined during the District’s normal business hours under the California Public

Records Act. See GOV’T CODE § 6253(a). Thus, the District’s lethargy in disclosing public

records is also not in compliance with the law.

My client intends to file suit against the District unless the two sides can reach an

agreement that brings the District into full compliance with the law. If the District is

interested in discussing settlement, please let me know no later than August 15, 2017.

Sincerely,

BRIGGS LAW CORPORATION

Cory J. Briggs

Be Good to the Earth: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Cindy Marten, Superintendent July 26, 2017

San Diego Unified School District Page 2

Be Good to the Earth: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Attachment 1: Categories of Requested Public Records

Page 1 of 1 (following request letter)

1. Each and every ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION sent or received since

July 1, 2014, by any official, officer, employee, or other agent of the San Diego Unified

School District that could be deleted or otherwise no longer retained by the District between

July 26, 2017, and December 31, 2017.

As used above, “ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION” includes all forms of

electronic communication, such as e-mail and MOBILE MESSAGES; and “MOBILE

MESSAGES” includes short message service (SMS) messages, extended message service

(EMS) messages, and multimedia message service (MMS) messages.

Be Good to the Earth: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

 


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