Attorney-Client Privileges

TEA has legal authority to appoint an agency monitor to participate in and report to the agency on the activities of the board of trustees or the superintendent if a school district does not satisfy accreditation criteria, academic performance standards, or financial accountability standards. In the case at issue, TEA has appointed a monitor to the Burnham Wood Charter School and has insisted that its assigned monitor be present during all of the charter school’s board meetings, including all of the board’s closed session discussions with its legal counsel, except where those discussion would involve matters where the interests of the school and the agency are adverse.

The attorney-client privilege protects communications between an attorney and the attorney’s client. Communication of the same information to a third party, either directly or because that person was present during the communication with the client, generally destroys the privilege.

The Burnham Wood Charter School is seeking a declaratory judgment to address the question of whether and to what extent a TEA monitor’s presence during a closed session attorney consultation affects the attorney-client privilege. El Paso Educ. Initiative, Inc. d/b/a Burnham Wood Charter Sch. Dist. v. Tex. Educ. Agency, No. D-1-GN-13-001234 (Travis County District Court).