Emily Bejarano has worked with Utah charter schools for the past twenty years through her job at Academica West. Her role is to train new school secretaries on records management, student data privacy laws, and best practices. In other words, she’s the one who answers the question “What do I do with all these old boxes of records?”
Thanks for chatting with us! First question: what DO you do when get that call?
When a school reaches out to me and is ready to go through their records, I’ll go to the school and typically they have 10 years’ worth of records they need to sort, classify, and destroy. It usually takes about half a day. It’s always a good day when I drive away with an SUV full of boxes that can be destroyed and a plan in place to manage the records better throughout the year.
What have you found most challenging about your job?
I’m in a unique position where I’m hired as a consultant for the schools and I’m able to provide recommendations on how to manage their records, but my role is not to directly manage the records. This can be a challenge! I can remind schools every year during an annual in-service meeting and encourage them to reach out to me, but usually it’s a triggering event such as running out of storage space, a new principal, or a new secretary that triggers the call for help.
What is your favorite part of the job?
The drive to the shredding company!! Joking aside, there’s great satisfaction walking away from a school after cleaning out storage rooms, freeing up space, and more importantly, helping to ensure the privacy and security of student information. I love the look of relief on the secretary’s face after being overwhelmed with a task they thought would take up several days and giving them the tools they need to consistently stay on top of the records management job.
What advice would you give other records officers and managers?
Stay on top of the records management. It will make your job easier in the long run and help ensure record security. I never wanted to be the reason why a student’s information was given to the wrong person causing harm to the student. Identify appropriate tools and short-cuts that can increase efficiency. Think “outside the box,” pun intended.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Keep in touch with your Records and Information Management (RIM) specialist! They’re an excellent resource. While reviewing student records, my RIM specialist reminded me of the definition of “record copy” vs “photocopy” (duplicate copy). The school had photocopied entire student files for kids who had transferred out for years, which was a very common practice “back in the day” but is no longer necessary nor recommended. At first I thought I had to archive 10 years’ worth of student files. I contacted my RIM specialist for a second opinion and she reminded me they’re photocopies, not originals. The originals followed the student to the new school. I was able to destroy all the photocopies, free up shelves in several storage rooms, and more importantly, 10 years’ worth of student data was taken care of and the school had a plan in place for more intentional and deliberate records management in the future.