HomeAdvocacy Tips > How and Why to Tape IEP Meetings by Brice Palmer, Vermont Advocate

The Special Ed Advocate
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:


2015 - 2016 Training Programs

Oct. 9 - Richmond, VA

Nov 7 - Bradenton, FL

Dec 3 - OKC

Dec 7 - Temecula, CA

Full Schedule

Be a Hero ...

 Jason at Ft. Benning
... to a Hero
Learn more


Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Bulk Discounts
New! Military Discounts
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
Newsletter Archives
Summer School Series
Success Stories

Law Library

IDEA 2004
No Child Left Behind
McKinney-Vento Homeless
Section 504
Fed Court Complaints


American Indian
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
College/Continuing Ed
Due Process
Early Intervention (Part C)
Future Planning
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
Military / DOD
No Child Left Behind
NCLB Directories
NCLB Law & Regs
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Related Services
Research Based Instruction
Response to Intervention (RTI)
School Report Cards
Section 504
Teachers & Principals
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
  Disability Groups
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites

How and Why to Tape Record Meetings
By Brice Palmer, Vermont Advocate 

Print this page

We have been taping meetings for several years. Because we tape so many meetings, we use a microcassette transcriber system with a small but good quality microphone. The one we use is a thin beveled square that receives sound from all four edges. The microcassettes are small and for storage purposes, take up relatively little space. 

When we record a meeting, we speak into the recorder at the beginning of the meeting and state the date, time, name or initials of the student, name of the school district and the names of each person in attendance at the meeting.

Dealing with Refusals

We have a rehearsed tactic for occasions when a school district refuses to allow a taping of the meeting. 
Goes like this: First, we do not ask. We just put the recorder right in the middle of the table and turn it on and make our identification of the meeting, etc. 

If someone from the school asks us to turn it off, we pick the little square speaker up and with the recorder still running, we politely ask the person to speak directly into the microphone and clearly state their name and that the school district is forbidding that an audio record of the meeting be made. 

Usually the person who raised the objection says something like "I guess its ok."

Idenfication and Filing of Tapes

Identification and filing of the tapes is critical. Because the tapes are not transcribed unless we need them for due process or other "proof" purposes, we include a clear written identification of the student's name, date, time, what tape recorder was used, who operated the recorder, name of the school district and meeting type. This is put into the plastic box that contains the tape. That box containing the tape is then is placed into the case pocket folder file in a section we call "facts and notes." 

When we need to transcribe a tape, we first have the parent listen to the tape and identify each speaker's voice on the tape. We check and double check that identification whenever possible.

For the actual transcribing, we have it done by a notary public. By following this process, we have not yet had a transcript denied when properly offered into evidence at a hearing. Objections, yes, but never sustained. (knock on wood)

Tapes as Part of Educational Record

Often the school district will tape record the meetings as well. When they do, those tapes are a part of the student's educational record. We request the school furnish us copies of all tapes they make of meetings. This is useful because the school's tape will often pick up some comments more clearly than did ours. It also discourages convenient blank spots appearing in the school's tape. 

This sounds like a whole bunch of trouble and it is. We do it because it works -- and because good evidence (we refer to it as a clear record) can often be the leverage we need to help the district see the error of its logic and keep a dispute from going to formal hearing. 

It is surprising what people say during these meetings. We look for statements that contradict a later position, statements made against their own interest, etc.

The importance of taping meetings came home today. In a rather heated matter now in formal proceedings, opposing counsel attached meeting minutes as an exhibit to her client's reply to our motion for partial summary judgment. 

After reading the exhibit, voices from the exhibit screamed out "Manufactured Minutes." Sure enough, we dug out the tape, listened, and would you believe the exhibit was not an accurate reflection of the meeting? 

Surely not.

Brice Palmer, Vermont Advocate
Email: askotis@shoreham.net

More Articles by Brice Palmer

Learning to Negotiate is Part of the Advocacy Process. Parents negotiate with schools on behalf of their children. In this article, you will learn basic negotiation techniques that will help you be a more effective advocate. 

How to Prepare Your Case. If you need to request a due process hearing to resolve a dispute, your job is to present your case in an organized manner that gives the decision maker enough good factual information to reach a conclusion in your favor. 

Back to top

Last revised: 08/09/08


Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon The Special Ed Advocate: It's Free!


Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
About the DVD Video


Copyright 1998-2015, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved.

Contact Us | Press Mission l Our Awards l Privacy Policy l Disclaimer l Site Map