The Department of Education on Nov. 9 provided clarification on questions to “high interest topics” related to IDEA regulations on how school districts should serve students with disabilities eligible for transportation services.
Legal consultant Peggy A. Burns, Esq., owner of Education Compliance Group, Inc., and a regular STN contributor, said that the IDEA transportation FAQs, while not containing a lot of new information, “says some astounding things” regarding the importance of transportation to the education of children, especially those who are disabled and receive free school busing as a related service to their Individualized Education Program (IEP).
In answering a question on positive behavioral support that school buses provide these students, the guidance states that “Recognizing that the school day begins at the bus stop is an important first step to ensuring that all students have a safe and positive experience” can be a helpful strategy to be employed by school district IEP teams when considering how to provide transportation services.
Another notable passage, according to Burns, is the section on appropriate discipline of IEP students who have documented behavior problems on the school bus but not in class.
“It talks about the impact of suspension from the bus, but the key words are if transportation is included in the child’s IEP,” Burns said. “[The Departmet of Education is] not saying anything different than they’ve said and we’ve said all along: if transportation is provided based on where the child lives, not because he needs it as a related service, then he gets disciplined like any other child.
“I think it has to be spelled out because it takes a deep understanding to realize that transportation is not always included in the child’s IEP just because the child is a child with disabilities.”
The FAQs also address the duration of travel and time on learning, vehicle requirements, confidentiality, a student’s right to transportation outside of normal school hours, children in preschools, and reimbursement. Burns will provide in depth analysis in a two-part article that will begin in the January 2010 issue of School Transportation News magazine.
Comments on the new IDEA transportation FAQs may be submitted via email.