School District Records―What to Keep and for how Long

Kacie Kefgen

By Kacie Kefgen, MASB Assistant Director of Labor Relations and Legal Services

DashBoard, Oct. 25, 2017

In the past few weeks, we have had a number of questions in the office about record retention. Generally, school districts have an obligation to keep all sorts of records―sometimes forever! Below are some basics that school employees, in particular, should know.

What is a public record?

The Michigan Freedom of Information Act defines a public record as a writing that is “prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by a public body in the performance of an official function, from the time it is created.”

What are nonrecord materials?

These are materials that need not be retained after serving their intended purpose. For more on nonrecords, see the Michigan General Schedule #1: Nonrecord Materials document.

What does a district need to retain?

MCL 750.491 requires that state agencies and political subdivisions, including public schools, must maintain public records in accordance with state law. The Records Retention and Disposal Schedule for Michigan Public Schools provides detailed guidance about what must be retained and how long various types of records must be kept. Definition of the retention codes listed in that document can be found here.

Are there special rules for records kept electronically?

School districts may choose to keep their records electronically, but districts must have a plan in place to ensure that those records may be accessed into the future as technology changes. For those of us who remember 8-tracks, Betamax and floppy disks, we can appreciate the potential problem of having data stored in a certain format but not having the device on hand to access that data.

What are some common records and their retention requirements?

Board of Education Meeting Records (Open Session) Forever
Board of Education Meeting Records (Closed Session) One year and one day after approval of minutes at the regular meeting at which the meeting minutes were approved.
Student Academic Records (CA-60) 60 years after the student graduates
Other Student Files Until the student graduates
Grade Books Three years from the end of the applicable fiscal year
Daily Lesson Plans One year from the end of the applicable fiscal year
Annual Reports Forever
Final Affidavit of Payment Forever
Bond Cremation Certificates Forever
Audits (Final Report) Forever
Accreditation Certificate Forever

If you have questions about record retention, contact your district legal counsel or MASB’s Legal Team at 517.327.5900. 

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