Section 504: IS RECORDING A LECTURE A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION, SCHOOL REFUSES

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Ruth:  My daughter has cystic fibrosis and a 504 Plan at her high school. She is a very bright girl, but is often absent due to her disability/illlness. She is taking 4 AP classes this year, after passing 3 previous AP exams. When she is absent she misses a lot of content, including lectures. We have requested that the school record lectures and make them available to our daughter to view to have equal access to the same material as her classmates/peers. The school district has refused to record the classes/lectures either with video or sound recording on the basis of student privacy. The teachers want to record their lectures, but the administration says “NO,” arguing that a student’s right to privacy outweigh’s my child’s right to equal access. Is this true???

  1. Quite a few people consider me intelligent, which gave me the confidence to think I can be successful at college/university/degree programs. The problem is, I never learned how to take notes during class. I am self taught. I believe I have great potential. I recall years ago believing I had some sort of mental retardation. These people helped me overcome that, & I am grateful.

    It’s wrong to refuse to let someone like me to record classes. If I am not allowed, my non-existent note-taking skills will mean that I will miss very important material needed to study so I can fulfill my potential.

    I’m 41, the mindset some people have scares me. Why bother going back to school with my non-existent note-taking skills if people don’t want me recording classes? Darn litigious society.

  2. This is on my sons IEP totally reasonable. Get everything in writing.
    Have the secretary sign and copy every letter you write to the school.

  3. No, it’s not true. Your daughter has a right to reasonable accommodations. Taped lectures are a reasonable request. The privacy argument is not valid. Students who attend public schools have minimal rights to privacy. The Family Education Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) governs privacy protections for education records, not students.

    Suggest that you document what you requested and the school’s response in a letter to admins and the school board. Describe your daughter’s medical issues and history. When you write this letter, think about what you want to accomplish. Edit the letter so it makes a good impression. As you write, think about the decision-making Stranger who has the power to make things right. This article will teach you how to write a Letter to the Stranger: https://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/Letter_to_Stranger.html

    You don’t say which admins blocked your request but I doubt the decision was universal. Higher ups may not know about your problem. Suggest you send your letter to the superintendent, special ed director and each member of the school board. Ask them to respond within 10 days.

    Let us know what happens.

    • People hear the words, or see them, “recording others” and they knee jerk react “oh my, privacy is being invaded!” or something related to that. I highly doubt their rational mind is what’s making their decisions. Sad.

  4. I could perhaps be persuaded to see the line of thinking about video recording being a privacy issue…..but can’t really see that it would be much of an issue for audio recording. What privacy is being invaded for an audio recording of the class….hearing another student’s answers or comments? That does not make sense to me and I look forward to other replies to the original question.

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