CPS parents on allowing recording of IEP and 504 meetings

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COLUMBIA - Many parents were attending the Columbia School Board meeting to hear the first discussion on parents ability to record some school meetings.

Discussions include proposals to loosen restrictions on recording special education planning meetings, for example IEP and 504 meetings. Current policy doesn't allow parents to audio or video record meetings in which their child's special education plans are determined.

A letter must be submitted to the district to allow parents with their own disability to record meetings if it is needed to accommodate the parents disability.

But members of CoMo Special Education Parents-Teachers Association (SEPTA) would like ALL parents to have the ability to record the meetings. 

"We believe it really helps parents have meaningful participation in the meetings if they're able to record it kind of takes some of the pressure off, helps you go back and listen, helps you undertsand a little bit more," said Michelle Ribaudo, President of CoMo SEPTA, "so we've asked Columbia Public Schools to revise their policy and open that up to all parents."

Parents are allowed to take notes but Ribaudo says meetings are hard to understand unless you've been a part of one. 

"They can be long depending on what part of the process you're in, they are completely full of acronyms, you are emotional because its your child."

These meetings can be hard for families to be completely involved in. Jessica Patrice says in an ideal world she and her husband would both be able to attend.

"Unfortunately the reality is that caring for a medically complex child with a younger child at home does not often allow us both to be child free long enough for an IEP meeting," said Patrice. 

She says being able to record would allow both to take part in the process and truly know what occurred in the meetings.

"It is very much our children's meetings and they are very important to their education and anything we can do to help those parents would be beneficial," said Ribaudo. 

Monday night's meeting is the first read of the policy. 38 other states allow this type of recording for special meetings.