Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Recording conversations, phone calls

Have you ever wanted to record an IEP* or other meeting with a school official (teacher, department head, principal, administrator)?

Have you taken a tape-recorder or digital recorder to a meeting? Were you ever told you could not record the meeting, such as an IEP?

Can you record the meeting without telling the other person or persons?

The answer is Yes.

South Carolina is a one-party consent state. At least one party must know that the conversation (phone or in-person) is being recorded. If you are recording it, then you are that "one person".

If I am in the meeting with you and am participating (for example, as an advocate for your child in his IEP), then I can record the conversation.

However, if you and a school employee (or any other person) are speaking by telephone and I'm listening in (and they don't know it), then I cannot record the conversation without the permission of at least one person; e.g., you. If I fail to get the consent of at least one person, then I'm committing a felony. And that won't look good on my resume.

Personally, I think it's a good idea to inform all that the meeting (or phone call) is being recorded. If the other person doesn't want to be recorded, he can leave. Or not speak. I don't like being sneaky. I encourage you not to like it, either.

* IEP is Individualized Education Plan

School Board abdicates responsibility

Should the Richland 2 School Board abdicate responsibility and pass all the bucks along to the superintendent? Absolutely not!

It is the School Board that is elected by the public, and the School Board is responsible to the public. If a member of the public makes a complaint to a school board member, that member of the public is entitled to a response. And the appropriate response might come from the board member.

Board Policies do a good job at attempting to muzzle board members. And, indeed, board members should be cautious about responding. Any one board member cannot speak for the Board or obligate the Board. But that does not mean a board member cannot respond!

Board Policy BBAA, Board Member Authority And Responsibilities includes this condition: "Questions, requests, complaints, and other information presented to individual board members outside of a board meeting by members of the public should be referred to the superintendent."

This is absolutely wrong and "should" should be changed without delay.

There would likely be no reason to avoid informing the superintendent of a complaint, but there should NOT be a condition that the board member must refer it to the superintendent.

This condition rips the floor right out from under the authority of the School Board. 

The receiving member might refer the complaint to the superintendent with a request to handle and to include the board member on any written response. If the response is telephonic, then a Memo should be sent to the board member. 

Lately, the Board has been inundated with Board Policy revisions "brought forward" by the administration. It will take a Motion by a board member and a decision by the Board to direct the superintendent to prepare a revision to BBAA. Which board member(s) will carry the flag on this one?

Comments, anyone?