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IEP Tips: Taping Meetings
by Anne Treimanis, Esq. and Kathleen Whitbread, Ph.D.

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: These tips are from the book IEP and Inclusion Tips for Parents and Teachers by special education attorney Anne Treimanis and Dr. Kathy Whitbread.

When you tape a meeting, you have a completely accurate record of the meeting and you will be free to listen and participate in the meeting rather than writing notes.
This article includes tips about taping and what to do if you encounter resistance from school administrators.

Let the school know ahead of time that you will be taping.

Most schools will want to have their own tape recorder running too so this gives them notice that they will need to have a recorder and tapes.

Get a tote bag to hold your tape recorder with fresh batteries.

Bring extra batteries and extra tapes. The tape packages should already be open so you are not fumbling around trying to get the wrapper off.

Mark the labels ahead of time.

Otherwise, you may tape over an earlier tape. Mark the labels “Ivy Smith’s IEP, date, tape one of ___. “

Bring an extra tape recorder.

I have seen meetings stopped because the school could not find a tape recorder. Do not rely on a power cord - there may not be an empty outlet. Or, the cord might be too short. You don’t want to create a distraction by using a big extension cord.

Use a regular sized cassette recorder, not a microcassette recorder.

Small microcassettes do not produce the same quality sound and they are not as sensitive as full size cassette tapes.

Don’t buy low end blank tapes.

Cheap tapes stretch more easily, especially when they are in fast forward or rewound.

Make sure that your recorder makes a sound when it shuts off.

You don’t want to have the tape stop in the middle of the meeting, nor do you want to watch the clock to guess how much more time you have.

Buy the longest playing tapes to avoid having to switch often.

Also consider bringing someone to the meeting who will watch the tape and turn it to the other side when necessary. You may easily forgot to do this.

Make sure the recorder has a good microphone - one with an external mike is usually best.

If you choose a tape recorder with a built-in microphone, there may be too much noise (rumbling sound) transmitted from the motor, which drives the cassette to the microphone.

Understand how the microphone works.

Point the external mike towards the ceiling, so it will pick up sounds from all around the room. If the mike is self-powered, make sure the battery is fresh.

Don’t keep the tape recorder next to you.

Put the recorder in the middle of the table, on a book or pad. (The motor often creates a slight rumbling that can affect the sound quality).

When the meeting is over, do not turn the tape recorder off.

Keep it running. Critical information is often discussed after the official IEP meeting is over.

Listen to the tape!

You’ll be surprised at how much you missed during the meeting! When you get home, break the tabs to prevent anyone from taping over the tape.

If you may be involved in a due process hearing, have your IEP meeting tapes transcribed.

You can do this yourself, or you can hire a professional transcriber. If you transcribe the tape, double space and always state who is speaking. Number the pages. If you use the tape at a hearing, submit the tape with the transcription. The tape will be your evidence. The transcription is an aid to understanding the tape.

Remember that a tape is an educational record under IDEA and FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act ("FERPA"; 20 U.S.C. 1232g), and is subject to the confidentiality requirements of the regulations.

Consider using new technology!

Digital voice recorder/music players are sleek and fun to use. They record directly into internal memory or use a removable memory card. The recording can be played back, uploaded onto your computer and sent electronically to others, or kept as a record until you are ready to access the info. Digital recorders come with USB connectivity for high speed copying of files to a PC.

“Recently, I attended an IEP meeting where Mom whipped out her child’s iPod and recorded the meeting! There’s an accessory that allows you to do that, at this time only for full-sized iPods. If you buy a digital recorder, make sure it can record for as long as your IEP meeting lasts. Also make sure you practice and are familiar with the technology.” - Anne

Other Resources

How and Why to Tape Record Meetings - Vermont advocate Brice Palmer offers useful advice about the nuts and bolts of taping meetings - dealing with refusals, identifying tapes, tapes as educational records, and more.

About the Authors

Anne Treimanis is a Connecticut special education attorney who limits her practice to inclusive education. She presents nationally, together with Kathy Whitbread, on the topic of least restrictive environment for students with disabilities.

Anne serves on the board of directors of the CT Down Syndrome Congress. Anne is also founder and co-president of SPED*NET New Canaan, a monthly forum in Anne’s community focused on special education issues. She also created and maintains the website, which received the 2004 Media Award from the CT Coalition for Inclusive Education.

Anne’s daughter Eva has Down syndrome and is fully and successfully included in New Canaan High School in New Canaan, CT. Last year Eva successfully completed a mid-level HS Algebra class and started attending classes without a paraprofessional.

Eva’s earlier education over four years at Saxe Middle School was so remarkable that Saxe was featured in a 2005 Connecticut Public TV television documentary called “The Challenge.” This article was picked up by educators in the Netherlands, translated into Dutch, and widely distributed to inspire educators to include students with disabilities in general education settings.

Co-author Kathleen Whitbread is an Assistant Professor and Associate Director of Programs for the University of Connecticut A.J. Pappanikou Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service.

Kathy has over 20 years of experience in designing and managing programs in the fields of education and human services. She has collaborated with educators in the former Soviet Union, the Netherlands, Italy, and the United States to increase compliance with educational laws and improve the quality of education for children with disabilities in this country and abroad.

She is the editor of The Inclusion Notebook, an award winning, internationally distributed publication of best practices in inclusive education. Kathy is currently conducting research in the area of early literacy for children with intellectual disabilities and conducts preservice and inservice training in inclusive education, positive behavioral supports, person centered planning and parent-professional partnerships.

Revised: 10/05/15

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