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IEP FAQs: Tapes are “Best Evidence” in Litigation

by Pete Wright

audio cassette tape recorderWe are in due process. We’ve recorded the IEP meetings. Should we use transcripts of the meetings or use the tapes as evidence in the hearing?

I always submit tapes of IEP meetings as the “Best Evidence,” i.e., the primary exhibit about what was recorded at the meeting. A transcript is simply an aid to understanding the tape recording …

Tactics and Strategies: Tips from Pete

I prefer to use audio tapes as evidence because they are not cutting edge technology.

Tapes are easier for those Hearing Officers who are not computer savvy.

If the case goes up, tapes are easier for federal court judges to use.

In several cases, after the hearing but before the decision was rendered, the HO / Administrative Law Judge listened to more (or all) of the tape, and became aware of the negative attitudes and intimidation of parents by school staff.

If the meeting was recorded on mini-cassette tapes and Judge uses a full-size cassette player, we still introduce the mini-cassette into evidence. By agreement, we add the full-size cassette to that exhibit after it is recorded onto the new tape.

If the tape is in a digital format, I would submit an audio CD as the “Best Evidence”, i.e., the primary exhibit.

I always submit the master tape to the Hearing officer /Administrative Law Judge and have copies made for the school board attorney, the parents, and me.

Taping Meetings

Federal law does not prohibit a parent or school official from recording IEP meetings.

There should be no conversation at an IEP meeting that cannot be repeated or taped.

Read Tape-Recording IEP Meetings for:

  • OSEP policy letters citing cases where courts have held that parents have a right to tape record their child’s IEP meeting
  • Articles and Tips on Taping

Good luck.
~ Pete


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23 Comments on "IEP FAQs: Tapes are “Best Evidence” in Litigation"


Our school won’t allow meetings to be audio taped. We live in Massachusetts.


Is it legal for a parent to send a student to school with a recorder and secretly tape the student’s entire day? Not only were teachers recorded, but other students were recorded without their knowledge. This took place over a 2 week period.


Plus each state has laws about audio and video recording and what sort of notification is necessary. At best, that footage is inadmissible. At worse, it’s a a crime.


Cyndie: We NEVER recommend that parents . . . . . . ask, allow, or encourage their children to monitor their teachers. Read these two articles and the posted comments.
Should Kids Use Recorders or Cameras to Monitor Their Teachers?

Can Parents Observe Children’s Classrooms and Placements


Can someone please help me asap and let me know what my rights are. My daughters school in florida has sent letters home wanting to decrease her therapies(speech, physical, and OT) to quarterly. My daughter is at about a one year old level cognitively, and they say she is failing to progress. But although she isnt running and talking, she has made slow but consistent progress throughout the years. I have our IEP Meeting on 3/25/10. What course can I take to prevent them from decreasing her much needed therapies?


as an SLP, I would say that failure to progress either means she needs INCREASED frequency or the therapists need to try a different approach, readjust goals, etc. If they have not tried anything new, then decreasing sessions or discharging is not appropriate.


Always tape record the IEPs & transcribe them to hold it against the school districts. The district dumped my son into general ed with no aide and very little support. It turned absolutely disastrous and ended up putting him in the hospital. They never did 1 assessment of him despite all these new symptoms nor were we ever informed of these new symptoms. These symptoms weren’t present anywhere but the school. I’m the one that had to call the emergency IEP. I took him privately to have him assessed. The school was practically begging me not to do it because they knew they messed up & much would be found wrong. They took my son down into a prone containment. He is asthmatic and in the state of CA it is illegal for them to do because of the risk of death to the child.


Thank you, thank you for this article. Even though I understand the preference for “old school” tapes, I ran right out and bought the best Digital Voice Recorder I could find that interfaces via USB with any computer and records in universally playable formats, and composed a nice, appreciative and firm letter to our IEP team (Special Services and the school staff) informing them that I would be recording all meetings and they were welcome to copies of my files there at the end of the meeting or to use their own equipment. No doubt the comments that I (and I quote the head of our county’s Spec. Ed Services here) “should be happy because your son is too bright to be stuck in a room with kids in wheelchairs on feeding tubes” won’t recur!