Audio Taping the IEP: Know Your Rights

Audio Record the IEP Meeting.

While the IDEA, the federal laws protecting special education rights, doesn’t specifically mention audio recording, California law does allow audio recording of an IEP.  Each state may have its own laws related to IEP audio recording.

Know that in California at least, you can audio record an IEP if you give the school district advance notice (at least 24 hours notice in writing).  This can be helpful if you are nervous about getting accurate notes of the meeting and if you want to create a record of what was actually said.  It also can be helpful later on if you get into a dispute with the district.  If you audio record the IEP, the District can also audio record.

Audio recording is allowed in California.

California Education Code §56341.1.(g) states:

(1) Notwithstanding Section 632 of the Penal Code, the parent or guardian or local educational agency shall have the right to record electronically the proceedings of individualized education program team meetings on an audiotape recorder. The parent or guardian or local educational agency shall notify the members of the individualized education program team of his, her, or its intent to record a meeting at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. If the local educational agency initiates the notice of intent to audiotape record a meeting and the parent or guardian objects or refuses to attend the meeting because it will be tape recorded, the meeting shall not be recorded on an audiotape recorder.

The audio recording provisions of the Education Code incorporation provisions of federal law. The code  protects the audio recordings under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act specifically incorporating confidentiality provisions from the Act. Any recording of an IEP that is maintained by the school as an education record requires the school district to apply the protections of the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act.

Additionally, pursuant to the Family Education Rights And Privacy Act, the Education Code states that with respect to the audio recording of the IEP meetings, parents have the following rights:

   (i) Inspect and review the audio recordings.

   (ii) Request that the audio recordings be amended if the parent or guardian believes that they contain information that is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the rights of privacy or other rights of the individual with exceptional needs.


Moreover, to the extent that a school district has a policy about audio recording the IEP, that policy may not be more restrictive than the rights to audio record pursuant to state law and that policy must provide for exceptions to the extent that the audio recording is necessary to comply with the parents right to understand the IEP and make informed decision about the IEP and the IEP process.


Preschool Children with Disabilities

On February 29, 2012 OSEP issued a guidance letter confirming that preschool aged children who qualify for special education under the the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are entitled to placement in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).

Preschool aged children are defined as  3 to 5 years old. Eligible preschool aged children are entitled to all the rights and protections guaranteed under the IDEA. These rights include but are not limited to placement in a preschool setting with typically developing peers. The IEP, a written document governed by the IDEA and most state special education laws, must be developed (in writing) and include an explanation to the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class.

Before a child with a disability can be placed in a more restrictive environment outside of the general education classroom setting, the IEP team must consider whether supplementary aides and services could be provided that would enable the child to benefit form a general educational setting with non disabled peers.If a public school program is available, the local educational agency (LEA) may choose to offer appropriate placement and services in that program. However, if the LEA (usually the school district or some other public agency) does not offer a public preschool program, the LEA must explore all “alternative methods to ensure that the LRE requirements are met for that child”. Some of these methods can include:

1. Enrolling children in preschool programs operated by other public agencies

2. Enrolling preschool children in private preschool programs with non disabled peers

3. Providing for home based services

These services should be provided at no cost to the parents.

The first step in determining eligibility is to notify your LEA in writing requesting an assessment for special education eligibility because you believe your child has a qualifying disability.

This is not intended as legal advice. If you believe you require assistance in obtaining special education services, please contact the Leigh Law Group at 415-399-9155 or to set up a free intake.