In short, yes!
To review the Texas Legislature notes that a record is defined as any “written, photographic, machine-readable, or other recorded information created or received by or on behalf of a state agency…” Though this definition doesn’t specifically mention the source of media, text messages are included in this definition.
Why? In our society often times a text is sent before an email notice or even a verbal message. It is possible to create a state record on your cell phone if you are conducting official state business through your phone.
Texting your boss/co-workers to let them know that you’ll be in for work, or to call in sick would not be a record. The following are some practical situations by which your text messages would become state records.
- If you’re texting a co-worker to let them know that you will be meeting with a student to discuss their graduation this year.
- If you text a student directly about their GPA.
- If you text your friend in another department for information about your departments FOAPAL code.
- If you text your supervisor or if you are the supervisor and the conversation discusses the details of your travel arrangements.
- If you are texting about anything that discusses your job, including any part of the job description, then it’s probably a record.
It’s been previously mentioned in some of the in person trainings that employees whose cell phones are personal property (not paid for using a university stipend) are exempt from this rule. However, the Attorney General does not see the funding source of phones as being the decider of what is or is not a record. For more information please read the TSLAC blog post on the issue.
Please seek more advice on this before moving forward. As always give us a call if you have any questions.