In 1975, Illinois passed the Illinois School Student Records Act. The act defined the requirements for public schools to maintain student records. As some school districts have grown the document storage needs are now straining their ability to stay in compliance with the law.
Lets take a more detailed look at the law. This law only covers public institutions. Private and non-public schools are not required to comply with the student record mandates. A school is anything from a preschool through a secondary educational institution that maintains student records.
A student record is defined as “any writing or other recorded information concerning a student and by which a student may be individually identified.” The exception to this rule are any writings that are taken by a school employee but not shared.
These writings should be shredded at the students graduation or at their withdrawal from the school. This makes the definition of a student record very broad. A preschool who has a mailing list of students would be covered by the document storage requirements for student records.
Each school must maintain the student record for 60 years after the student has graduated, transferred, or withdrawn from the school. The school must designate an official records custodian to oversee the records management.
The school principal is also required to periodically review each temporary student record for accuracy and make any necessary changes and remove any irrelevant information.
Then when it is time to destroy the records they can’t simply be shredded. The parent must be sent notification at their last know address. They will have the opportunity to make a copy of the record before it is shredded. A parent, student, or a person designated by the parent has the right to inspect and copy all student records.
These all seemed like reasonable measures in the confines of the statehouse but the problem for many school districts is that there is a high cost with maintaining student records for such a long time. The are now seeking financial or legislative relief from the Illinois School Student Record Act.
With such a long retention period this is a great case for moving from paper to electronic documents. There is a cost with the document scanning to create the electronic records but after that they could be centrally stored to reduce the need for multiple records managers. This also make the retrieval of a record very quick and if done well through an on-line portal. Even more important is the reduction in the need for space or buildings dedicated to records storage.