As a student enrolled in Columbia Public Schools, I have had personal experience with the current policy that does not allow recording devices during meetings about students.
I have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders that can affect how I perform in school. Anxiety can severely impair my ability to process information in the moment. Therefore, I need to set up a plan so I can effectively participate and be successful in school.
A meeting is usually held during the school day, but I often have to leave midway through so I don’t miss class. The district policy prohibits my mom or me from recording the meeting, even though it is about me and for me.
I have no way of knowing the exact details that were discussed after I leave.
Learning to be independent and advocate for myself can be difficult to do when I’m not present at my own meeting. Further, such a meeting can trigger anxiety disorders, which make retaining and processing information very difficult.
If I could record, I would be able to remember and process the meeting later.
The policy about recording needs to be changed. These meetings are for and about students, and parents are often representing their child. The record of a meeting that can last for hours would allow parents and students to advocate for themselves and retain the information.
The School Board claims the policy is to protect the confidentiality of minors. However, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act only prevents school staff from sharing information about students. There are no restrictions about what parents can share.
If a parent wishes to record a meeting and review details later, it is not a FERPA violation.
Changing this policy would also keep everyone accountable. It would help prevent everyone during a meeting from acting out of line, and it would capture specific details from the meeting.
This is a benefit to all of the people involved in the meetings, especially the student. It’s my plan, and I should have the right to record it.
Emery Wakefield is a senior at Rock Bridge High School.