Baltimore County’s school board directed system employees Friday not to destroy any documents or emails.
The unusual request came after the board voted in private session to ensure that nothing was shredded or lost during an external audit of the school system’s contracts.
The request said employees should keep even those records that normally would be deleted or destroyed in the regular course of business, such as emails and spam.
The audit is being conducted after the former superintendent failed to report his connection to a firm that had a contract with the school system. Dallas Dance was convicted of perjury, served four months in jail and was released Monday.
The school system’s legal office legally destroyed financial disclosure documents last spring.
School system attorney Margaret-Ann F. Howie wrote to members of the board in mid-August saying her office began getting rid of documents because it was running out of space to house them all. About 300 school system employees and board members are required to file disclosure forms each year.
By law the county must keep the forms for four years, but it had retained some of the forms for as long as 20 years.
“The removal of these forms was accomplished within the bounds of the law and without any aim to shield any information from review,” she wrote in her letter to the board.
School board chair Edward Gilliss said the “records retention policy has been in existence for a long time and the culling of financial the forms was consistent with the policy and had no relation to the external audit process. There was no nefarious purpose.”
Because questions had been raised about the shredding, the board decided to send out the directive last Friday, he said.
“My impression was that the board was ensuring that all records now available would still be available,” Gilliss said.