That Time I Left an IEP Meeting and Forgot to Grab My Recorder (Which was Still Recording)

September 9, 2020: Article first published. February 15: Article republished with introduction in italics below. About four-and-a-half years ago, I left my recording device in a room when I left. To date, FCPS has yet to address this, other than the time its counsel John Cafferky insinuated during a due process hearing that it was an intentional ham-handed attempt to try to catch FCPS doing something. It wasn’t. FCPS does quite well at screwing up on its own. No need for anyone to try to catch what’s already publicly displayed. However, it played well for John and the hearing officer wouldn’t allow the recording to be used. I’m still trying to find out what FCPS staff member Heather Bousman-Stanczak meant when she said, “This isn’t a Title IX office and division counsel at this point . . .” If readers have any information, please let me know.


I attended an IEP meeting. When I left the meeting room, I accidentally left behind my recorder, which was still recording. The recorder captured comments by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) members of the IEP team (Procedural Support Liaison Program Manager Angelina Prestipino, Procedural Support Liaison Jean Massie, Dyslexia Resources Regional Point of Contact Tracy Puckett, and Assistant Principal Heather Bousman-Stanczak), which they started making immediately after I left the room. They wasted no time. The following is a partial transcript:
Callie Oettinger: (Jean Massie walked in and I addressed her.) I never had that reading fluency graph that you and Ryan presented and I just saw it sitting there, so I just wanted to make a copy of it. Jean Massie: Absolutely. Oh, Absolutely. Yeah. I thought that Ryan gave you a copy of that. Callie Oettinger: No. Jean Massie: Okay. (I picked up my bag and my keys and stood in the meeting room door, waiting for Angelina Prestipino to return from the copy room with a copy of the graph.) Jean Massie: Thank you Callie. Callie: Thank you. Tracy Puckett: Bye Ms. Oettinger. Callie Oettinger: Bye. Thank you. Thank you. Angelina Prestipino: Bye bye. (I walked out the meeting room door and turned toward the copy room. Angelina was coming out and gave me a copy. After taking the copy from her, I walked to the other side of the front office, away from the meeting room, and toward the front door.) Jean Massie: What I did was I whited it out. Angelina Prestipino: I just made an extra copy. Jean Massie: I just whited it out. Angelina Prestipino: Excuse me? Jean Massie: I didn’t give her all the [inaudible] information we pulled . . . ???: I think she already picked it up ???: [Inaudible] Jean Massie: That’s what Teresa Johnson has anyway. ???: [Inaudible] Angelina Prestipino: I double checked it. It’s nothing that wasn’t already on the progress report. Jean Massie: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. She has no . . . ???: She has now gone. ???: She’s now gone out the front door. ???: Okay. Jean Massie: I think you’re done Heather. Heather Bousman-Stanczak: I don’t think so. I think this is just starting for me. (At this point you can hear me knocking on the door.) I’m 90% sure it’s just starting for me. Um . . . This isn’t a Title IX office and division counsel at this point . . . (Heather left the room to open the door for me, which is why she stopped talking. Jean Massie, however, started talking again.) Jean Massie: So. I have this. I have this. We should have fake offered but we may want to . . . This is in the file. (I walked through the office and into the meeting room. The recorder was still recording and still sitting in the exact place it had sat during the entire meeting, positioned on the table in between Angelina Prestipino and Jean Massie, who were sitting across from each other. I had not touched it since the start of the meeting, so it was still in clear view, in the exact position it had been in for over 2 hours. Jean Massie and Tracy Puckett looked up when I entered the room and were surprised to realize I left the recorder and it was still recording)


I emailed Jean, Angelina, Heather, Tracy, and other FCPS staff members a transcript of the last few minutes of the 8.15.18 audio recording, requested feedback from FCPS, and provided FCPS the opportunity to provide input to the transcript. I asked Jean, Angelina, Heather, and Tracy to confirm that they had the same understanding of the transcript. I specifically stated, “If I’m wrong on any of this, please let me know. As previously stated, there are hard to hear sections, hence my coming to you for clarification.”


I attended a meet and greet at the high school. Jean was in the meeting room when I arrived. After the meet and greet, when everyone but Jean; Telia Johnson, the high school’s Co-Department Chair for Exceptional Education; and I had left the room, Jean said, “I didn’t lie to you.” This came without any prompting, conversation, introduction, or anything of the like. She simply blurted out, I didn’t lie to you.” I asked what she was talking about. She said that I brought up lying. I asked what instance she was referring to, because I had a few examples of my being lied to, and I wasn’t tracking what she was talking about. Jean referenced the partial transcript for the 8.15.18 meeting and said, “I said FAPE, not fake” I stated my surprise, since not one individual from FCPS had responded to the transcript to date. After Jean left, I immediately looked at Telia Johnson and said, “I didn’t know what she was talking about. She kept saying “I didn’t say fake” and I didn’t know what she was talking about. Telia said she thought Jean was referring to the audio transcript I had sent, which had said “fake.” (Another confirmation that FCPS did receive the transcript.) I responded that I had figured that out as Jean went on, but that I didn’t know it right away when she started talking. The shock of the situation acted like mind fog. I emailed Eric Brent, FCPS Executive Principal of Region 4, an account of Jean’s “I said FAPE, not fake” comments. Eric did not respond. Other than Jean and her “I said FAPE, not fake” comment, none of the other individuals on the recording have provided input. In addition to Jean’s comments being a concern to me (What did she not “FAPE offer” and what did she white out and what did she withhold?), I’d still like to know what Heather meant by “This isn’t a Title IX office”. Lots of questions. Crickets from FCPS.

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