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Supreme Court Declines To Weigh In On Whether Parents Can Record IEP Meetings

Supreme Court Declines To Weigh In On Whether Parents Can Record IEP Meetings

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from a Massachusetts father who wanted to video record his son’s individualized education program meeting. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

The U.S. Supreme Court says it will not hear arguments in a case looking at whether parents have the right to record meetings with their child’s school district about special education services.

The high court declined to consider the matter known as Pitta v. Medeiros this week.

Scott Pitta, a Massachusetts father, appealed to the Supreme Court earlier this year after lower courts decided that school officials could bar him from video recording a virtual meeting about his son J.J.’s individualized education program, or IEP.

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Worried that information had been left out of the minutes from previous meetings, Pitta asked the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District in Bridgewater, Mass. to video record a September 2022 IEP meeting. The district declined, but offered to audio record instead. Pitta, however, said that this would be “unsatisfactory” because audio would not make clear who was speaking.

At the start of the meeting, held over Google Meet, Pitta indicated that he was video recording the session. School officials then ended the meeting, a move that Pitta argued violated his First Amendment rights.

Pitta cited the First Amendment right to “record government officials in the performance of their duties.” But, lower courts rejected the claim because the government officials in this case were school employees engaged in a closed-door meeting, not acting in a “public space.”

“Pitta’s argument ignores established limitations in First Circuit law, which permit recording of government officials performing their duties only in indisputably public places in full view of the public, and even then, only when the act of filming would not hinder officials in the performance of their public duties and would serve public interests,” according to a decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in January.

Pitta appealed the case to the Supreme Court with the backing of the conservative Goldwater Institute arguing that circuit courts nationally are split on the issue. However, the high court dismissed the matter with no comment.

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