Dustin Fanning, the superintendent of Moberly School District, said Tuesday that the district is complying with a new state law that permits guardians to record meetings regarding their children’s education and disability information.

“The district must now balance these interests with a parent’s new right to record meetings in a manner that complies with both state and federal law,” Fanning wrote in an email.

In a Sept. 16 letter, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt called on the district to terminate a policy that prevents parents and guardians from recording Individualized Education Program meetings. The letter to the district came after the attorney general’s office was informed that the Moberly district required parents to sign a “Request to Record IEP/504 Meeting” document.

“Having reviewed the form, I am left with the firm conviction that it does not conform to Missouri law,” Schmitt’s letter stated.

Fanning’s response said the form is not a consent form that restricts parents from recording, as Schmitt indicated, but rather a form that parents submit to provide notice of intentions to record.

“Significantly, the district has not prohibited any parent who provided notice using the form from recording a meeting since the new law went into effect,” Fanning wrote.

The law states that districts are able to require notice for plans to record a meeting, so long as the notice period doesn’t exceed 24 hours.

Fanning said the district is looking forward to engaging in dialogue with the attorney general to reach an understanding on “our efforts to balance multiple interests and comply with both state and federal law.”

“The district recognizes and appreciates the Attorney General’s advocacy for parents,” Fanning wrote.

The law, which went into effect Aug. 28, has been a topic of debate in Missouri school districts, in part because the state requires that only one party consent to a recording. This means any person may record someone’s voice without that person’s permission.

The law states that districts must permit parents to record these meetings and that the recordings directly belong to the guardian who recorded them.

Columbia Public Schools spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said Monday that CPS is complying with the new law. However, the district is waiting to change the policy on its website until the Missouri School Boards’ Association produces a new policy for all districts. The new policy would still need to be approved by the Columbia School Board.

  • Youth reporter, fall 2021. Studying international journalism. Reach me at sofizeman@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720

  • Elizabeth Brixey is the Columbia Missourian's education editor and an associate professor in the Missouri School of Journalism. She can be reached at (573) 882-2632 and brixeye@missouri.edu.

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