Colorado Ethics Watch nudges Jeffco school board: Stop violating Colorado Open Records Act

The embattled Jefferson County School Board, which has been accused of violating the Colorado Open Records Act by failing to have an email retention policy, may finally be developing one for board members and employees – but it hasn’t yet.

Last October, Chalkbeat Colorado discovered the board had no policy outlining how members or district employees should retain email records. That lack of policy conflicts with the 20-year-old Colorado Open Records Act, according to government watchdog Colorado Ethics Watch.

Ethics Watch this week sent a reminder to the school board’s attorney, Craig Hess. The letter, written by attorney Peg Perl, pointed out that the school board’s attorney had advised the Board last January that it needed such a policy.

But now, a half-a-year later, Ethics Watch learned that the Board has yet to adopt such a policy, although it is “considering discussing the matter this fall.”

“The Board’s refusal to adopt an email retention policy in the face of such clear mandatory language in a state statute is a flagrant, and apparently willful, violation of CORA,” Perl wrote in the letter.

She recommended the board adopt a sample policy, developed by the Colorado Association of School Boards, at its next meeting. That’s scheduled for September 3.

Hess told The Colorado Independent today that “outside counsel” is working on a draft policy, and that they hoped to have it “up and running” by the end of August. Whether it will be ready in time for board approval by the September 3 meeting is unknown.

Read the letter from Colorado Ethics Watch below.

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Photo credit: R. Nial Bradshaw, Creative Commons, Flickr

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.