Audio Recording IEP Meetings – Is It Allowed?

Having an audio recording of what happens in an IEP meeting is powerful evidence, especially when school districts deny what was said or fail to put a service in writing into the IEP.   For example, an audio recording can prove or disprove what was actually discussed during the meeting, whether the parents were given proper opportunity to participate, and what decisions or objections were made.   For those reasons, parents often wonder if they are permitted to record an IEP meeting.

So, can you do it?

Federal Law

There is no federal law prohibiting a parent or school official from recording IEP meetings.  IDEA and the other special education laws are silent on that specific issue.

However, IDEA does say a few things that are relevant to the discussion:

  • Parents are critical members of the IEP team
  • Parental participation in IEP meetings is vital and if a school blocks such participation, it is a denial of FAPE
  • Parents have the legal right to understand the IEP and, if necessary, have it explained to them

Audio recording an IEP Meeting, when the IEP Team is aware and consents to it, is not a violation of federal privacy law.

So that means you can do it, right? Not so fast.

The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has issued a letter opinion and Policy Memorandum on this subject in June 4, 2003 (PDF file).  The bottom line of the analysis is that it is a local policy issue and depends on several factors.

When a federal law is silent on an issue, the individual states can decide or legislate on the issue.

State Privacy Laws

The next hurdle to overcome is what state law says on privacy and audio recordings.  Each state has its own laws regarding the consent required to audio record events, even if they are ‘public’ events.

Some states are known as ‘dual consent’, which means both parties must know about and agree to the recording.  Some states are ‘single consent’ which means that only one of the interested parties (usually the parent who wishes to record the IEP meeting) has to agree to it.

While not exhaustive of every state’s law, the Digital Media Law Project collected links to some state’s laws on this issue.  This site is not being kept up to date, so make sure you check your own state’s law on recording or consult with a local attorney.

School District Policies

It is therefore left to the State Educational Agency (SEA) or Local Educational Agency (LEA) to determine the policy on audio recording these sessions.

The SEA or LEA (local school district) may issue a policy requiring, prohibiting, limiting or in any other way regulating audio recording of IEP Meetings.  If the public agency has a policy that prohibits or limits the use of recording devices at IEP meetings, the policy must have exceptions necessary to protect parental rights, such as the ability to understand the IEP or the IEP process. Any such policy on tape recording IEP meetings must be uniformly applied.

Protecting Access to Recordings

Any recording of an IEP meeting maintained by a public agency is an “education record,” within the meaning of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)[1] and would be obtainable by the parents through a written request.  It would also be subject to the protections of FERPA prohibiting its release to anyone not authorized under that law.

So what do you do?

Parents wishing to use audio or video recording devices at IEP meetings should consult state laws or local school policies for further guidance or consult with a local education attorney.

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[1] 20 USC §§1232g and 1232h; Regulations 34 CFR §99.1 et seq.

2 Replies to “Audio Recording IEP Meetings – Is It Allowed?”

  1. I’ve been asking for 4 or 5 years at least and, once, a person from the main office said YES, and claimed they recorded a telephonic 504 mtg between myself, them & 2 other district folks yet, afterwards I was told they’d have to get with district tech folks to compress the file as it was too big to send…bet you can guess how that ended, eh? No. No one’s last name was Trump or DeVos. No. I never received the copy despite repeatedly asking for it in writing. I requested this person attend a mtg 2 days ago to tell this story and PROVE I was telling the truth and that the district had agreed through that person to record the 504 mtg. But, instead, the person just sat there smiling, looking down at their paper they wanted me to sign yet, never confirming nor denying my acct to be true or false. Incredible! I believe they never intended to record that 504 mtg last summer and was lying every step of the way, inventing their side of the story. Still trying to bamboozle and make a fool of me even now and smiling about it by not telling the truth and aking me look like I’m not right in the head or the liar instead. Whatever the case, I was not granted my request for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA as a person/guardian with disabilities who wants very much to understand the process so I can help my 3e identical twin grandsons who are being abused and neglected by the district. Now, after so many years of not getting their needs met at school, they like their 3e 17 year old 11th grade sister are turning off their passion for learning…no more reaching for the stars that once lit up their dreams…no more dreams. Negativity, depression and lots of anger have replaced them with formerly respected, admired and trusted teachers and counselors total hypocrisy & lack of integrity. Why can they NOT be held accountable?!

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