KB Reference Desk: Archiving Local Policies

Q:      My Board will be updating and replacing several local policies over the summer. As the custodian of records for the District, am I obligated to ensure retention of past versions of all of our board policies? How long should we maintain copies of the old policies?

A:      Yes, you should retain copies of all past versions of your local policies only (not legal) for at least five years; however, it is recommended that you archive these policies permanently.

Due to storage constraints, the online TASB Policy Service does not electronically maintain records of all past versions of a school district’s local policies. As such, these records must be maintained locally. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (the state authority on document retention) recommends that policies “governing the operations or activities of a local government (including a public school district)… or any of its departments, programs, services, or projects” be maintained for at least five years. However, as a best practice, TASB recommends maintaining copies of all past versions of your local board policies permanently, as you would board meeting minutes.

The purpose in retaining these past versions of policy is two-fold: 1) to follow the state’s retention guidelines; and 2) to be able to comply with an order from a court or other governmental authority (think the EEOC or OCR) requiring production of the local policy that was in force as of a certain date. In developing this archive record, your files should include copies of all local policies that have been deleted or replaced as a result of a district-initiated change or a TASB numbered update (e.g., Update 104). Note, there is no need to keep copies of your legal policies since they merely reflect the law (which is easily tracked) and are not adopted by your Board. When organizing your archive, make note of the date at the bottom right corner of the policy under the word “Adopted.” Most Districts file their local policies in alphabetical order by code (BBB, DEC, etc.), with individual policies filed chronologically within that code. TASB recommends that you keep hard copy files, as opposed to solely relying on electronic archives, due to the often limited storage capacity faced when archiving voluminous records.