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Email Retention

Initial Adoption Date:  October 8, 2008
Prior Revision Dates: 5/28/09, 12/22/11
Last Revision Date:   May 11, 2021
Last Review Date: May 11, 2021

Policy

It is the College’s policy to preserve email messages sent from or received by the college for a period of six (7) years or as required by law.

Purpose

To implement practices and procedures preserving email messages sent from or received by the College’s email services for litigation discovery, public records request responses, and records management. 

To Whom Does This Policy Apply

This policy applies to all TCC employees and any persons using email within college administrative (non-student) email systems.  Student email accounts in instructional email systems are not in scope.

References

RCW 42.56 Public Records Act

Definitions

Litigation Hold - A Litigation Hold will direct owners of potentially relevant records to preserve them from destruction or modification.  Any notification of a Litigation Hold will include an explanation of what constitutes a relevant record.

Relevant Records - The definition of a relevant record may be defined by parameters such as beginning and ending dates, sender, receiver, subject line, key words in the message, and/or other variables.  The Vice President for Administrative Services or their designee as informed by the Discovery or public records request, will include the definition of a relevant record in all litigation hold notices.

Electronic Discovery (eDiscovery) - Electronic Discovery refers to any process in which digital data is sought, located, secured, and searched with the intent of using it as evidence in a civil or criminal legal case.

Procedure

Document Preservation Plan:

Upon receiving notification requiring action to preserve digital documents, the Vice President for Administrative Services or their designee, will involve appropriate staff persons and the College’s Assigned Counsel as needed to develop a Preservation Plan. The plan will include the following:

  1. Designation of a coordinator to serve as principle contact for all parties.
  2. Identification of the operating units, individuals, and systems that may possess relevant email messages
  3. Provision of Litigation Hold notices to appropriate individuals
  4. Implementation of immediate steps to halt automated, routine practices that have the potential to delete relevant information
  5. Implementation of a plan to find, gather and preserve relevant records in their native formats (including metadata).

Record Retention Plan:

The College employs commercially available software that continuously archives all messages sent from or received by the College’s email services.  The archive is stored by the College’s cloud-hosted email provider.  Individual messages not under litigation hold and/or not subject to open public records request are retained for six years.

Discovery and Public Records Requests:

Recipients of a Litigation notice, Discovery request, or a Public Records Request must immediately notify the Vice President for Administrative Services or their designee.

Any College employee with knowledge of impending litigation or a reasonably anticipated lawsuit must immediately notify the Vice President for Administrative Services or their designee.

In both cases the College will immediately take steps as described below to preserve and prevent loss of potentially relevant messages.

Duties of Persons Receiving Notice of a Litigation Hold, Discovery Request, or Public Records Request:

Employees receiving a Litigation Hold, Discovery Request, or Public Records Request notice for documents which may be in the person’s possession or scope of responsibility must immediately:

  1. Discontinue personal practices regarding the destruction of possibly-relevant messages.
  2. Disable or cause to be disabled any automated functions such as automatic deletion of emails.
  3. Protect and preserve all messages in their original digital form (including metadata). 
  4. Protect and preserve any relevant new information that is generated or received after receipt of a Litigation Hold, Discovery Request, or Public Records Request.
  5. Follow any other specific instructions in the Litigation Hold, Discovery Request, or Public Records Request.

Ending Preservation Responsibilities:

The duties of persons receiving Litigation Hold, Discovery Request, or Public Records Request notices cease when notified in writing by the Document Preservation Plan coordinator the litigation or the threat of litigation has ended; or the Public Records request has been withdrawn or closed.

The College’s Records Retention Officer will schedule and conduct annual reviews of this policy.