Representatives from the Columbia Special Education PTA met at the Columbia Public Schools Board of Education meeting Monday. The group gathered to hear the board discuss a policy that does not allow parents to record Individual Education Plan meetings with teachers.
ABC 17 News previously reported parents and some students voiced a desire to change the policy.
Michelle Ribaudo is president of the Columbia Special Education PTA. She came to the meeting along with many other representatives from the Columbia SEPTA.
“Those meetings for the kids that have IEPs or 504s, that’s the core of their education. So there are some kids that their entire education is just in that IEP. There’s other kids where it tells how it’s modified, so it’s the heart of their education,” Ribaudo said.
The meeting room was full of parents and students who wanted to voice their support for changing the policy Monday. The public comment portion of the meeting lasted almost an hour and a half.
One woman said her meeting lasted more than five hours and in separate sections. One high school student told the board he should be able to record his meetings because it is so crucial to his education.
“It is simply ridiculous, in my opinion, that you cannot record during these things. Especially where it is so crucial to how I will go through the rest of my school year,” he said.
Another man said he would like to be able to record because he cannot always attend the meetings.
“It’s very difficult for me with my schedule to be present, and though I trust my spouse, I’d like to verify and listen myself,” he said.
There is an exception for the policy that allows parents or guardians who also have disabilities to record the meetings.
“My wife put together a letter to the school board, asking to record due to my disability. To my knowledge, my family is the first granted to record any IEP meeting,” said one father who stood up.
The school district did a survey asking teachers if they believed the policy should be changed. A majority of the teachers were against the idea. Teachers listed many reasons why they did not want the meetings to be recorded.
Several people who spoke at the meeting said parents have already been recording the meetings secretly because it is allowed under state law.
The board did discuss the issue but did not take any official action at the meeting.