Columbia parents push to record special education meetings with teachers

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COLUMBIA - The CPS policy committee decided Monday to review its policy regarding the recording of meetings where special education plans for children are discussed.

The decision came after the committee heard parent complaints. Current policy prohibits video and audio recording at the meetings. The Columbia Special Education Parent-Teacher Association is asking the school district to allow parents to record them.

“I had a situation at a meeting that I would like to have recorded,” SEPTA President Michelle Ribaudo said. “There can be miscommunication, and, in this case, you would call the other meeting. It would not be even necessary to do this if you would have a recording.”

Amy Salladay, a SEPTA member and attorney, said these special education meetings are often overwhelming and intimidating, and having a recording will provide an accurate record of discussion and agreements.

“We asked the district to consider a blanket recording of all special education meetings, in part because a recording is provided in 39 other states,” she said.

Helen Wade, Columbia Board of Education President and the chairwoman of the board’s policy committee, said the policy in place is a model policy of the Missouri School Boards Association. The policy states exceptions to this prohibition are possible only following the Board of Education policy and law.

“Requests for such exceptions must be made within a reasonable period of time prior to the scheduled meetings,” according to the policy.

Ribaudo said special education meetings are children’s meetings in the first place.

“If there is a push back from the district of not recording a meeting, I think, our children’s rights should be above that,” she said.

The board’s policy committee discussion included the terms and potential problems that may arise, such as video and audio issues, necessary equipment and deadlines for recording notification.