I am a member of Laguna Beach’s school board—a five-person, majority-rules board. Each member has a voice and a vote. No one vote is more important than the others. No voice is silenced—every board member can vote on every issue.
As board members, each of us is a professional steward of the school district. This means we must have clear transparency on board business in public, and we must respect privacy on matters that are confidential. Confidential matters concern individual students, teachers, and staff, as well as ongoing litigation.
When the board addresses confidential matters, we do so in a closed (non-public) session. Under our bylaws, a board member “shall not disclose confidential information to a person not entitled to receive such information, unless a majority of the board has authorized the disclosure.” (BB 9011)
When board members use email to communicate about district business, we are required to use our official, district-supplied email accounts. (BB 9012) This allows the district to archive the communications, which ensures transparency as to public matters and confidentiality as to nonpublic matters.
Following these bylaws is not only a professional expectation; it is our legal and ethical obligation. Violating these provisions threatens the integrity of the board.
From public information requests, the board learned that member Dee Perry directly forwarded confidential email involving attorney-client communication. The district’s attorney marked the communication as “CONFIDENTIAL.” The person to whom Perry forwarded the email was not entitled to receive such information. Perry did not have the right to waive the attorney-client privilege as to this communication. And yet, acting on her own, she breached confidentiality.
If this were a one-off occurrence, I could excuse it. But it wasn’t. As we have learned, Perry has been consistently forwarding official email communications—including privileged communications—to her private email account.
Perry’s breach of confidentiality, coupled with her systematic forwarding of official emails to her private email account, concerns me deeply. The behavior fundamentally disregards legal and ethical obligations, exposes the district to liability, and threatens the integrity of the board. This is why I supported the recommendation of the district’s attorney that confidential matters now be handled by an executive subcommittee that, at least for the next year, does not include Perry.
To be clear, the purpose of my vote is not to “silence” Perry; rather, I voted to protect the confidences entrusted to us concerning students, personnel, and litigation. To frame it any other way, is incorrect.
Our goal as a board is to work as professionals. But if we are not able to trust a fellow board member with confidential information, it is our professional duty to take reasonable steps to protect the district. We have taken those steps.
Peggy Wolff,LBUSD Board Member