A common question in my office relates to whether parents should record IEP meetings or other meetings with the school district. My answer is almost always an unconditional no. I realize that other attorneys may give different advice on this issue but some events recently have made me feel compelled to write a blog entry on this topic.
Over the years, parents have come to me with “recordings” of their IEP meetings and wanted me to listen to them. For the most part, the recording was incomprehensible, it was impossible to know who was speaking and the conversation was stilted and unhelpful. I have also found that there is no surer way to get everyone to stop talking than to announce that you will be recording their every word. Schools have traditionally also arranged to tape the meeting when this happens. However, no real exchange happens. People simply quit communicating.
Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to mention an aspect of Illinois Law, known as the Illinois Wiretapping Law. This law is a two-party consent law. Illinois makes it a crime to use an eavesdropping device to overhear or record a phone call or conversation without the consent of all parties to the conversation. The law defines an eavesdropping device as “any device capable of being used to hear or record oral conversation or intercept, retain or transcribe electronic communication whether such conversation or electronic communication is conducted in person, by telephone, or by any other means.” 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/14-1, 2. You must get consent before recording any conversation. In addition to the criminal penalties, you can also be sued civilly for damages. This includes I-pads, pens that act as a recorder, phones or any device capable of recording.
- Don’t tape.
- If you do, you must get consent prior to doing so.
- If you don’t get consent, you are violating the law.