• University of Illinois, J.D., magna cum laude
  • University of Michigan, B.A., Psychology, High Distinction and Honors


  • Supreme Court of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio
Derek L. Towster

Derek uses his sharp intellect to cut through the most complicated legal issues to provide clients with practical legal advice.  An excellent communicator, Derek is valued for his ability to distill complex legal concepts into achievable action plans.  Derek’s practice focuses on representing public boards of education and their employees in all manner of disputes—from special education litigation, general litigation, employment counseling and defense, discrimination defense, and collective bargaining. 

Derek has represented school districts in discipline and termination proceedings, before various administrative agencies and in state and federal court.  Clients benefit from Derek’s expansive education and employment law knowledge and his litigation experience, which helps him to work with clients to identify real-world solutions to complex legal problems.

Primary Focus & Experience

  • Education General Counsel:  Provides comprehensive advice and counsel to boards of education throughout the state of Ohio, including advising on public records, open meetings and board policy and governance issues, ethics and contracting advice, contract drafting and interpretation, community and media relations, litigation preparation and avoidance. 
  • Collective Bargaining:  Negotiates labor contracts on behalf of boards of education with teaching and nonteaching unions.  Represents boards in mediation, arbitration, fact-finding and proceedings before the State Employment Relations Board.   
  • Special Education Counseling & Litigation:  Defends boards of education in special education due process proceedings, administrative proceedings and in federal court.  Provides proactive advice to manage special education disputes and compliance concerns.   
  • Employment Law:  Defends boards of education in complaints before the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other state agencies; represents clients in all aspects of employment law, from managing internal complaints and investigations, day to day human resources issues, and complex litigation.   
  • School Business Operations:  Provides proactive advice, review, drafting and negotiations regarding vendor contracts and strategic partnerships, risk assessment and management, and advice regarding financial issues.    
  • Investigations:  Provides guidance to administrators conducting investigations or directly assists with investigations into student and staff issues.   
  • Litigation:  Represents boards of education through all phases of litigation, including employee and student discrimination and civil rights cases; constitutional claims, including equal protection; Section 1983 claims; retaliation claims; sexual harassment and Title IX claims; teacher termination and employee discharge cases; and student discipline and special education claims.   
  • Student Matters:  Provides guidance and advice on various student matters, including bullying, parent complaints, student discipline, equity and diversity issues, and student records and privacy concerns. 

Presentations & Publications

Derek frequently speaks and writes on the following topics:  

  • Special education 
  • Civil rights compliance 
  • Student misconduct and discipline 
  • Employee misconduct and Discipline 
  • Constitutional issues in schools 
  • Enrollment and attendance 
  • Payroll and employee benefits 
  • Technology issues in schools 
  • Litigation avoidance 

Derek has presented for the following organizations: 

  • Ohio School Boards Association 
  • Ohio Association of School Business Officials 
  • Buckeye Association of School Administrators 
  • Ohio Association of Pupil Services Administrators 
  • Ohio Council of School Board Attorneys 
  • Ohio State Support Teams 
  • Ohio Department of Higher Education 
  • Ohio Association of Local School Superintendents 

Professional Associations & Community Involvement

Ohio Counsel of School Board Attorneys 

You Might Not Know

Derek is an eagle scout. He, his wife, and daughter are the loving owners of two parrots.

“I am outcome driven, helping clients prepare for the worst while striving for the best.”