IEP team meetings typically involve the exchange of a lot of information and opinions. Parents must determine how to best document the meeting. One way is to record the meeting using an audio recording device. The second is to take notes.
Can I Record the Meeting? Federal law does not address whether or not parents have the right to record an IEP meeting. In California, however, parents have the right to record an IEP meeting if they give at least 24 hours notice in writing. (California Education Code Section 56341.1(g)(1))
Should I Record the Meeting? I disagree with advocates who suggest that parents should always record an IEP meeting. In my opinion, the right to record a meeting doesn’t always mean the parents should record the meeting. Parents should evaluate their own circumstances before deciding whether or not to record the IEP meeting.
I personally have made the decision to record certain meetings and not others. Here is some insight into why I made those decisions:
Consideration to Record a Meeting. The few meetings I recorded involved contentious issues or team members. If I had a history with a team member who made outlandish statements about my child or my decisions as a parent I would record the meetings. I felt it would help keep everyone focused on our objective as an IEP team. I also had some meetings where I strongly disagreed with the reports written by team members and recorded the meetings to ensure I was allowed to present my side to the team.
Decision to Not Record a Meeting. There have been times where I have made the decision not to record an IEP meeting. Those meetings were usually ones where I had an IEP team that worked well together. I felt it showed my trust in our ability to work together. I always knew that if there was an unexpected issue in the meeting I could always refuse to sign the IEP and follow up with written correspondence that supported my objections.
Taking Notes. You should always be prepared to take notes at an IEP meeting. Be sure to bring a pen, paper, and, if you prefer to use it, a computer. If you don’t record the meeting, this will help you keep track of the issues discussed. If you bring a recording device and it fails to work then you still have the ability to document the meeting.
Whether or not a parent decides to record an IEP meeting they still maintain their right to have their positions stated in the IEP. Before signing the IEP you should review the notes section written by the district representative. Most representatives are willing to include notes you feel are important. If they refuse then you can ask for your own notes page or take the draft IEP home and write your own notes. One caution is to make sure that your requests are reasonable. Don’t use the notes page to record derogatory statements about the IEP team. Focus on your positions and why you believe they should be considered.
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