Recording IEP meetings

7 Dec

I was in BestBuy (and another electronics store) this past weekend. As I wandered around I stumbled upon microphones. This reminded me that I want to upgrade my method for recording IEP (Individual Education Plan) meetings. For those who may be unaware, U.S. Law allows parents or districts to record IEP meetings. WrightsLaw points out that this is not a universal right in the U.S.: “State departments of education or school districts can require, prohibit, limit, or regulate the use of recording devices at IEP meetings.” California has state laws allowing recording of IEP meetings. From DisabilityRightsCa.org:

51. Can I tape record an IEP meeting?

Yes. Parents may tape record an IEP meeting, even without the school district’s permission, as long as the parents give the school district 24 hours notice of their intention to do so. Similarly, a school district may tape record a meeting with 24 hours notice to the parent. However, the district cannot tape record the meeting if the parent objects. If the parent objects to the district tape recording, then there can be no tape recording of the meeting by either the district or the parent. [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56341.1(f)(1).]

Under federal law, audio tape recordings made by the school district are governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. [20 U.S.C. Sec. 1232(g).] In addition, you have the right:

(1) To inspect and review district-made tape recordings;

(2) To request that the tape recordings be amended if you believe that they contain information that is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the rights of privacy or other rights of the individual with exceptional needs; and

(3) To challenge, in a hearing, information that you believe is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the individual’s rights of privacy or other rights. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 99.10-99.22; Sec. 56341.1(f)(2)(A)&(B).]

Recording technology has changed a lot in the past few years. Only a few years ago, our district was still using tape recorders. Tapes are bulky and you might need a few tapes (and a lot of flipping of tapes) to get through a long meeting. You may find yourself transferring the tapes to a computer file anyway, adding more time and more chances to mess something up. Digital recorders are now ubiquitous. Smart (and not so smart) phones can serve as a digital recorder. Otherwise, there are a lot of options in the <$100 range (which wasn't the case a few years back). One can use a laptop, with the correct application (Microsoft windows includes an application that is limited to 60 second recordings).

IEP meetings are long and if you are recoding them, you should be prepared to listen to them. In addition, you may have to transcribe them. Room recordings from cheap microphones can be painful. Last think you want is the fatigue of listening for hours to an IEP meeting, with the fatigue of a bad recording, with the fatigue of having to transcribe, "And, on this very important point [garble]".

I'd be very interested in other people's experiences with somewhat more modern, yet portable equipment. Especially since now some digital recorders are packaged complete with speech-to-text software like Dragon Naturally Speaking. Software like that tends to be focused on dictation applications, where one person uses a microphone close up.

7 Responses to “Recording IEP meetings”

  1. livsparents December 7, 2010 at 20:10 #

    “Parents may tape record an IEP meeting, even without the school district’s permission, as long as the parents give the school district 24 hours notice of their intention to do so.”

    I wasn’t sure I knew that for sure…thanks. That is a GREAT intimidation factor thing, if nothing else. For those slimy districts who like to play games, nothing scares the shillings out of them more than knowing that they are now ‘on tape’. I can’t get over that phrase BTW. On a ‘Wav’ file just doesn’t have the same ring to it!

  2. Sullivan December 7, 2010 at 20:31 #

    livsparents,

    that may be a California thing–the no permission required to tape, just give notice.

    I’m with you on the “on tape” talk. “I plan to make an audio recording to disk” doesn’t cut it.

  3. Winnie December 8, 2010 at 06:04 #

    livsparents,

    I understand that this is also a parental right in your state, if you inform the district in advance.

    The Dept of Ed in your state has a pdf file online entitled “Parental Rights in Special Education” — you will find it there.

    🙂

  4. Winnie December 8, 2010 at 06:24 #

    P.S. LP, if you anticipate being uncomfortably outnumbered and are aiming to equalize the squirm factor, you might consider videotape.

    I didn’t notice that your state specified that the tape recording must be audiotape.

    : )

  5. californiafather December 8, 2010 at 23:54 #

    In Burbank we recorded our IEP and the district recorded it too. We used a recorder with a flash card, mike in the middle of the table. Quality is poor but you can hear everyone. May have had better luck with a digital Zoom recorder, which contains mikes aimed in a circular pattern. Value of flash drive recorder is that you can upload/edit/send recordings. Value of recording: everyone is on-point.

  6. dad2Luke June 30, 2011 at 02:06 #

    The law about recording with 24 hours notice is a CA state law. In other states it varies. In some there are no laws about recording and so the local wiretapping laws apply, CA is a “two party” state and so w/o the education law, parents would have to get permission like they do in the other two party states. In the “one party” states, the parents could record without notice.

    I use a Zoom H-2 recorder in surround sound mode. I has 4 microphones and so could do 5.1 recordings if that becomes necessary. OTOH you lose the 5.1 sound if you use headphones. It is made for music recording so it is somewhat fussy, but gives clear sound which is why I like it so much. When everyone talks at once you need that. You can upload to a computer via USB.

    So far no state requires districts allow video taping w/o permission all around. I suspect that slimy Districts would simply say “no” like they do in Washington State.

    Click to access Issaquah133.03.pdf

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