The Columbia Public Schools board of education on Monday night heard from parents and students who want to record individual education plan meetings for kids with special needs. It was the first reading on the idea. More discussion will happen during September’s meeting.
“I think the school board got to hear from a lot of parents that it’s not a malicious intent. Nobody’s out to get anybody. These are just parents that want the opportunity to go back and listen to the recording,” Amy Salladay with the Columbia Missouri Special Education PTA says.
A CPS spokesperson points to privacy concerns about the recordings. The district has some meetings, like those for student discipline, that are kept from the public by federal law. Missouri law allows recording of the special education meetings, but no school district in the state allows that right now.
CPS also has concerns about the recordings limiting honest and productive conversations about what a kid needs during IEP meetings. Salladay says fear is a factor.
“I’m sure there are some concerns that if we have some incompetent or untrained staff, that that’s going to come out through a recording policy.”
CPS Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said on Wake Up Columbia in May that, ultimately, the IEP is a written document, and not the conversation had with the parents.
“The [IEP] document is what guides everything,” Stiepleman said (during a segment starting at about the 4:45 mark of the interview linked above). “At any point if a parent is confused, one need only to just say ‘what does that mean?’…You can have as many meetings as you might need in order to come together to figure out what to do.”
Salladay says the recordings would probably wind up helping teachers more, because they can point back to that if a parent gets confused. She compares it to body cameras that show police officers are doing their jobs.
“I do think that we’ve had some positive conversations recently, but I’m really hopeful that over the summer we’re going to have more conversations and I hope that we can all come together.”
The Wake Up Columbia interview with Salladay: