After the Observer requested emails related to travel spending sent by school board members in May, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools public information department responded with this cost estimate from Southeastern Technology Group, which archives emails for CMS.
CMS communications head LaTarzja Henry said emails less than a month old are generally retrieved free by CMS staff, and she was not sure why her staff had sought a proposal from the contractor rather than launching in-house retrieval. She said she believes the recent emails can be provided at no cost, but offered no timetable.
Mecklenburg County recently created a 26-page public records policy detailing how emails and other records should be handled and provided to the public. CMS has no such policy, instead relying on N.C. public records law, Henry said. The N.C. Records Services Branch also provides this guidance on public school records. Both the law and the guidelines are complex, with room for interpretation on allowable fees.