At least once a week I am asked if parents are allowed to audio record an IEP. Most people think the automatic answer is yes but in reality the answer is maybe. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is actually silent on the issue but in June of 2003 the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) issued a letter clarifying their position on audio recordings:
Part B does not address the use of audio or video recording devices at IEP meetings, and no other Federal statute either authorizes or prohibits the recording of an IEP meeting by either a parent or a school official. Therefore, an SEA (State Education Agency) or public agency has the option to require, prohibit, limit, or otherwise regulate the use of recording devices at IEP meetings.
If a public agency has a policy that prohibits or limits the use of recording devices at IEP meetings, that policy must provide for exceptions if they are necessary to ensure that the parent understands the IEP or the IEP process or to implement other parental rights guaranteed under Part B. An SEA or school district that adopts a rule regulating the tape recording of an IEP meetings also should ensure that it is uniformly applied.
Any recording of an IEP meeting that is maintained by the public agency is an “education record,” within the meaning of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”; 20 U.S.C. 1232g), and would, therefore, be subject to the confidentiality requirements of the regulations under both FERPA (34 CFR Part 99) and Part B (§§300.560-300.575).
IDEA does not automatically give parents the right to audio record an IEP but audio recordings must be allowed “if they are necessary to ensure that the parent understands the IEP or the IEP process or to implement other parental rights guaranteed under Part B.” I thought that was important to reiterate again that even if the SEA or School District has a policy against audio recordings there must be exceptions allowed in certain instances. Many SEA’s have addressed the issue of audio recordings in their State Education Code so the first place to check about a parent’s right to audio record would be in your State law.
For instance, California Education Code §56341.1.(g) states:
(1) Notwithstanding Section 632 of the Penal Code, the parent or guardian or local educational agency shall have the right to record electronically the proceedings of individualized education program team meetings on an audiotape recorder. The parent or guardian or local educational agency shall notify the members of the individualized education program team of his, her, or its intent to record a meeting at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. If the local educational agency initiates the notice of intent to audiotape record a meeting and the parent or guardian objects or refuses to attend the meeting because it will be tape recorded, the meeting shall not be recorded on an audiotape recorder.
(2) The Legislature hereby finds as follows:
(A) Under federal law, audiotape recordings made by a local educational agency are subject to the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1232g), and are subject to the confidentiality requirements of the regulations under Sections 300.610 to 300.626, inclusive, of Part 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(B )Parents or guardians have the right, pursuant to Sections 99.10 to 99.22, inclusive, of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, to do all of the following:
(i) Inspect and review the tape recordings.
(ii) Request that the tape recordings be amended if the parent or guardian believes 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.
(iii) Challenge, in a hearing, information that the parent or guardian believes is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the individual's rights of privacy or other rights.
As you can see, California has officially granted parents the right to audio record an IEP meeting with 24 hours notice. Other States might have different language or might not address it at all. Since I have not been able to find one central location that tracks State law regarding the ability to audio record an IEP I would like to create one with this blog. If you are reading this blog and live in any of the other 49 States, other than California, if you provide me the language and citation from your State law I will start compiling a list.