WJHG News 7 reports that the Jackson County school system is in court trying to prevent recording of Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings between teachers, students and parents. The suit seeks to bar Pam Long-Bimberg, an advocate for parents with disabled children, from recording the meetings.
Long-Bimberg has been attending and recording the meetings at parent request. However, the school board recently refused to allow her to use her tape recorder in the meetings. Long-Bimberg questioned why officials want to prohibit recorders after all this time.
Exceptional Student Education Director Shawn Larkin claimed the recordings violated teacher’s rights to privacy. But Long-Bimberg maintained the only privacy rights affected were the parents or the advocate’s, since the meetings only pertained to the student.
The issue is whether preventing Long-Bimberg from recording the meetings violated the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Both parties admitted there was no legislation in Jackson County that stated one way or another whether the recording were legal.
“There is absolutely no language that says you can record or not record. We can’t make a recording, they are not entitled to record. There is specific language in the Florida statute that protects those rights. Now I think an issue is, is [the meeting] public or is it private,” Larkin asked.
Long-Bimberg argued that because taking notes was allowed in the meetings, the recordings should be too. She said the recordings helped students better comprehend the meetings and keep a precise account of the plans made.
Depending on the outcome of the suit, there could be an appeal to federal court. The board has filed another lawsuit against Long-Bimberg seeking legal fees.
Source: WJHG News 7, 9/10/12, By Staff
[Editor's Note: In January 2012, Legal Clips summarized an article in MyCentralJersey.com, which reported that Mary Pellum, a resident of Plainfield, New Jersey, who had been attending Plainfield Board of Education (PBOE) meetings for the past four years, decided she wanted to record the meetings and post the video along with the documents on her blog. But when the school board’s attorney informed her that she would have to agree to indemnify the district against any legal claims and provide them with a copy of her video, she balked.
Pellum, who successfully sued the district in the past to force it to release previously redacted documents, partnered with an attorney from the N.J. Foundation for Open Government in order to change PBOE's recording policy. Meanwhile, PBOE had approved a new rule that requires citizens to seek Board approval before broadcasting their recordings on the Internet or elsewhere.]