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Parents comment on CPS teacher recording policy

Parents urged the Columbia Public School Board of Education to change its policy on recording special education meetings with teachers and parents at their meeting Monday.

The policy in question forbids parents and students from recording Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings. The CPS Board of Education performed a ‘first read’ of the policy, which opened the floor of the meeting to the public for comment.

Currently, the only exception is for parents who have disabilities themselves, according to Board Vice President Jonathan Sessions.

Sessions said the school district asked teachers if they believe parents should be able to record IEP meetings in a districtwide survey. The majority, including special education teachers, were against the idea, Sessions said.

“I don’t think the benefits (of lifting the ban) outweigh the concerns, and I don’t think that the benefits would actually be benefits in the ways that many people think that they would be,” Sessions told ABC 17 News before the public comments.

Multiple groups, including the Columbia, MO Special Education Parent Teacher Association (CoMO SEPTA), voiced support spoke in favor of granting parents more ability to record the teacher-parent meetings.

“Having recordings would allow parents to have that backup where they can feel like they can actually participate in the meeting more rather than take notes,” said CoMO SEPTA President Michelle Ribaudo

In total, fourteen people told the board they are in favor of lifting the ban. Several students who require IEP meetings also spoke in favor of a change.

Even though it is legal in Missouri for one party to record another without their knowledge, no school district allows a parent to record an IEP meeting. CPS Board President Helen Wade and Ribaudo both said they were not aware of any school district that allowed IEP recordings.

Wade said that the board will consider a change to the current policy as well a complete lift of the rule over the summer. The policy will likely be taken up again at the September board meeting, according to Wade.

Ribaudo said if CPS does not grant parents the ability to record IEP meetings, then the group will seek change at statewide.

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