The Los Angeles Unified school board, under fire because of the release of internal emails outlining a possibly inappropriate relationship between its executives and Apple, as well as textbook publisher Pearson, has decided to buy a service that will automatically destroy staff emails after one year, according to KPCC.
School district general counsel David Holmquist asserted that the service, designed by Microsoft, will permit L.A. Unified to refuse any California Public Records Act requests for emails that are more than one year old. The school board passed the measure on Tuesday to buy the service 6-0, with one abstention from new member George McKenna.
McKenna asked Ron Chandler, chief information officer for L.A. Unified, “The term of one year, is that an arbitrary number or is that the board’s decision, the vendor’s decision?” Chandler responded by noting a two-year-old policy bulletin that required the district to keep its emails for a “maximum of one year only.” The policy reads, “Because the District relies on public funds, it is imperative for the District to minimize its costs and, therefore, dispose of information and records in a timely manner.”
Although board member Monica Ratliff said of the emails, “I think we should keep them a little longer,” she also voted for the purchase of the service.
The school board’s vote to buy the email-destroying service follows the release from KPCC roughly three weeks ago of emails surrounding Superintendent John Deasy’s relationship with Apple and Pearson, which were the major players in the school district’s $500 million technology contract. The emails delineated the meeting Deasy and some of his staffers had with Pearson executives long before other companies submitted competitive bids.
Pearson’s offer that came later matched closely what L.A. Unified required in its desire to give every student and teacher a tablet.
Deasy protested that the discussions with Pearson revolved around a pilot project that never came to fruition, rather than the technology contract that was being discussed, but three days after the internal emails were publicized by KPCC, the contract that was signed by the school district with Apple and Pearson was canceled.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office is reopening an investigation into the matter; it had closed a prior investigation of the iPad/Pearson purchase, but the release of the emails has prompted another inquiry.