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Lexington District One Board waives attorney-client privilege and releases legal opinion to correct statements made in media and on social media

May 22 2019

On Tuesday during its May 21, 2019 Board Meeting and in accordance with board policy, the Lexington County School District One Board of Trustees decided to waive the attorney-client privilege related to the 04-28-2019 legal opinion Superintendent Greg Little received from legal counsel. The board took this action, in part, to correct and provide context to statements made in the media and on social media by Board Member Jada Garris.

In that legal opinion, the attorneys expressed their view that the superintendent’s responses to Garris’ requests were proper under South Carolina law, board policy and even the AG’s information opinion in light of the practicalities of responding to time-consuming and burdensome requests for information outside of the board as a whole.

As it relates to the issue of whether a single board member may direct the superintendent to have staff obtain cost-related information/documentation when that information is not readily available, would require substantial staff time to retrieve, if obtainable, and which is of questionable value to the board member’s ability to carry out her duties, they pointed out that several board policies (Board Policy BBAA Board Member Authority and Responsibilities and Board Policy BBA Board Powers and Duties) suggest an individual board member has no such authority unless it is otherwise stated.

Dr. Little recommended that Garris get with the board to decide if the board wanted staff to take the time needed to fulfill her latest requests. He also stated that if she did not want to work through the board, she could ask for the information under FOIA.

When any board member makes a request for information, the superintendent provides it if that information can be reasonably and expediently attained. However, when the information requested will take considerable staff time to collect; it is appropriate for the superintendent to advise a board member to discuss with fellow board members the merit of the information requested and to ask the board to vote on the need to devote manpower and financial resources to prepare that information.

However, none of the information requests discussed in the media and on social media, or those referred to in the attorney general’s unofficial opinion have been brought to the board for consideration even after Little repeatedly made that suggestion.

Board Chair Cindy Smith stated, “I have also approached the Executive Director of the South Carolina School Boards Association Scott Price and asked his opinion of the appropriateness of Dr. Little’s response to Mrs. Garris. He agrees that Dr. Little's response was proper under law and board policy.”