With many PTA meetings now held via an electronic platform, PTA leaders would like to know whether PTAs have the option to record meetings and provide the link to those who were unable to attend. There are also PTAs considering the practice of live-streaming meetings on platforms like Facebook. Live streaming and recording meetings and PTA business are not recommended; this is a risky practice. However, recording and live streaming, in general, are not prohibited by WSPTA Uniform Bylaws or WSPTA Policy, and both can be important tools for communication and community engagement.
WSPTA recommends that local PTAs and councils keep PTA business off live stream and recordings. These tools are better used to share programs, information, presentations, and other curated content. The decision to record or live stream, including what should and should not be shared, should be made carefully by each PTA, with due consideration of the risks involved.
WSPTA also recommends that PTAs using electronic meeting tools add social media and media liability insurance to their regular liability policy. (Remember: Insurance only mitigates risk – it does not eliminate it!) PTAs should be aware of all restrictions and limitations imposed by their insurance policy.
Here are seven things that you should be aware of if your PTA is considering recording or live streaming:
- Washington state law requires that every party to a phone call or conversation consent to the recording. Consent for a meeting may be satisfied by announcing that a meeting is being recorded or transmitted if the announcement is also recorded.
- PTAs are private nonprofit associations and meetings are considered private; PTA business is not public in the way that a school board’s business is. Meeting minutes have legally defined, restricted access to those members who “have a purpose for inspection reasonable related to membership interests.” Recordings and live streams make legally restricted business information public.
- Once a recording is made and distributed, the PTA no longer has control of who has access to their business. A PTA’s business is available to everyone, regardless of their interest or intentions. People may use the information they obtain in ways in which it was not intended to be used, potentially damaging the PTA or members of the community. There are numerous examples of this, from custody disputes to scammers.
- Attention must be paid to everything that is captured in a recording or live stream, whether it is deliberate or not. That Disney poster on someone’s wall quickly becomes a copyright violation when it’s recorded and distributed. A political banner in the background may be a violation of IRS restrictions on partisan politics that could jeopardize the PTA’s nonprofit status.
- A PTA does not have control over what any individual says during a meeting, but the PTA may be held responsible for comments that are made public. For example, a complaint about a fundraising company might be important information to share within a private membership meeting, but it could turn into a lawsuit for defamation if a recording of those comments is made public through distribution or live streaming.
- People will often not share freely when a conversation is being recorded and may fear that statements will be taken out of context or used against them. School staff and administrators may be less open or candid for this reason. Recording may limit the opportunity for vigorous, open discussions.
- A PTA does not know or understand the specific privacy concerns of every family. Protecting the privacy of the individuals attending the meeting, particularly minors, must be given serious consideration.
updated June 25, 2021