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Only School Boards Can Waive the Attorney-Client Privileges between Superintendents and Board Legal Counsel

In the case of Ingram v. Regano, N.D.Ohio No. 1:19-cv-2926 (Dec. 21, 2022), a federal district court held that only a school board can waive the attorney-client privilege relating to legal advice provided to a superintendent by the board attorney.

In this case, a substitute teacher suing the superintendent argued that the superintendent must disclose to the substitute teacher redacted portions of an email communication that the superintendent sent to a non-party teacher containing both a potential settlement agreement and legal advice from the school board attorney relating to the dispute with the substitute teacher and, therefore, the superintendent waived the attorney-client privilege between the school board and board attorney by sending this email. In response, the superintendent argued that the redacted portions of this communication cannot be disclosed to the substitute teacher as only the school board can waive the attorney-client privilege, which was not done in this case. The federal district court agreed with the superintendent.

In support of its decision in favor of the superintendent, the federal district court explained that the superintendent lacked the authority to waive the attorney-client privilege as management of the school district is vested with the school board only and, as a result, only the school board can waive the attorney-client privilege, which was not done in this case. While the federal district court acknowledged that an attorney could waive the attorney-client privilege of a client even without express authorization to do so, this general rule does not apply here as the superintendent was neither the school board’s attorney nor acting as the school board’s litigation agent.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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