Parents please be aware and very careful
Subject: Advocacy Needed – Court Decision
Court Decision – Placing Tape Recorder on Disalbed Child Going to School
The attached case finds in a civil matter (the Stefan case) that it is a felony for a parent of a disabled, 10-year old child who is non-verbal to place a tape recording on her child (see pages 16-17).
While I do not agree with the decision, everyone needs to know this federal court decision regarding state law is contrary to parents being able to legally place a tape recorder on their children with disabilities in the public school setting. Perhaps it would be different if the parents told the school district and all personnel in advance. However, in one of my cases, the parents told the school attorney in writing that the child would come to school with a tape recording, asking the school attorney to tell everyone involved, but an ALJ nevertheless ruled it still was a secret recording and was thus not admissible. At least in that case, it should not be an alleged felony, because everyone was put on notice through their attorney they had no right of privacy, for they had been told in advance the child would be taping his day at school.
I do not know if the decision is going to be appealed by counsel in Stefan’s case, but I hope so, yet this may not result in the decision being overturned.
I believe we need to set up a committee (maybe the GAO and other state organizations could help, since they have the people and counsel on staff) to try to get the law regarding recordings changed when it involves disabled children (given how it is being interpreted). It is the ONLY way to protect disabled children and for parents to really know what goes on during their day. Neurotypical children can come home and tell their parents, but many children with more significant disabilities cannot accurately relate or relate at all what happens to them when they are at school.
We thought for years and years we were facing a brick all stopping seclusion, yet concerted efforts prevailed. Maybe we can change the law in this regard.
We could enlist police officers, psychologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, educators, child abuse experts, counselors, social workers, parents of children with disabilities, attorneys, advocates, ministers, state organizations, national organizations, perhaps hospitals, nurses, school nurses, and more to write letters about the absolute need for a law allowing parents of children with special needs to have the right to place tape recorders on their children during their school day as long as they inform district personnel (the principal, teacher, and therapists). This is more than fair, and it is very much needed to proactively protect these children. We also need lobbyists – I know one lobbyist who is a mom of a child with special needs. Perhaps corporations which generously donate to elected officials might back the cause. It would be a LARGE undertaking, but I’m willing to donate some time. Please feel free to send this email to others.
To me, it should be a crime to not allow a parent to tape record her disabled child’s day, regardless of where that child is. The law should not prevent parents from protecting their children, and a school building is a PUBLIC setting, not a private setting. No one in a public setting with a child (disabled or not) present should have any right to privacy.
CHRIS E. VANCE, P.C.
2415 Oak Grove Valley Road, N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30345
(404) 320-6672 – Tel
(404) 320-3412 – Fax
(404) 313-3800 – Cell