HB432 allows recording of IEP and Section 504 meetings

HB 432 Allows Parental Recording of IEP and Section 504 Meetings

House Bill 432 passed in the last week of the 2021 Missouri legislative session, and it will be presented to the Governor for his review and approval. If this legislation is signed, families will have the authority to record official meetings regarding their students with disabilities.

Under most current form policy language, recording meetings within a school district is prohibited; however, the bill language, which will become § 162.686, RSMo. if it is signed by the Governor, does not allow districts or charter schools to prohibit parents or legal guardians from recording their students’ IEP or Section 504 meetings. The bill also includes the following provisions related to recordings:

  • Parents’ or legal guardians’ recordings of the meetings will be the property of the parent or legal guardian;
  • Districts cannot require more than 24-hours’ notice that the parent or guardian plans to record the meeting; and
  • Employees who report violations of the law regarding recordings cannot be subject to discharge, retaliation, or any other adverse employment action for making a report.

If the bill is signed by the Governor, it will become effective on August 28, 2021. It is likely that most policy services will create new form policy language addressing the change so that the new law will be reflected when the change occurs at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. In the event a form policy is not available, your Board should implement a resolution or other policy change to allow recording consistent with the law, to ensure the administration is not tasked with enforcing a Board Policy that does not comply with the law.

Given the likely change, we recommend districts begin thinking through how to process notifications of recording and the ramifications of parents’ or guardians’ choices to record meetings next school year. Specifically, we recommend the following items are implemented based on HB 432:

  • Staff should be aware that parents have the ability to record IEP and Section 504 meetings, and no steps should be taken to discourage that recording, in order to maintain compliance with the law. This would include office staff who may field calls from parents regarding recording meetings, and staff members who will participate in IEP or Section 504 meetings.
  • The new ability to record will likely change the landscape regarding due process complaints and child complaints, as parental recordings will likely be used as exhibits in those hearings.
    • Given that this is possible, as is the ability to modify recordings or present snippets of recordings out of context, we strongly recommend districts also record meetings that parents record.
      • These recordings will become student education records and will need to be maintained just like any other student record, for the period of time required by federal and state law, or district policy.
  • Districts should determine whether they will, and have the capacity to, store actual audio recordings, or whether they’ll have the recordings officially transcribed.
    • Transcription can be expensive, but would allow a clear record of the recorded conversation separate from an audio recording, and it may require less storage to maintain.
    • Another option would be to store the audio recording and transcribe it once there is an indication that a recording will be used in a dispute resolution process.
  • Because the recordings made by the parent will be the property of the parent, and the school’s recording will be a student education record, they will be able to publish the recording if they choose to—including on social media. Staff should understand the district’s expectations for their behavior as outlined in the district’s staff conduct policy, including communicating professionally with parents and patrons of the District.
  • Given that these recordings will likely be used in dispute resolution processes, or could even spur such processes, it will be important for staff to be trained on and fully understand their roles in IEP and Section 504 meetings, as well as the process for those meetings.
    • Preparation for an IEP or Section 504 meeting is always important, but it will become even more important in a meeting in which a parent plans to record, to help prevent missteps during the meeting that may later be brought to light in a complaint.

We anticipate this change will create many more questions as the school year approaches. If you have any questions regarding HB 432 or how to implement any of the above practices in your district once the bill becomes law, please reach out to a team member at EdCounsel.