of Special Education Students
Special education transportation is defined in federal regulation as a related service. Transportation is required to be provided if it is necessary for the student to benefit from special education instruction and to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Transportation is required for any student with a disability that prohibits the student from coming to school in the manner that his/her peers arrive at school or when the student is placed at a school other than his/her home school or when safety is a concern. Special education transportation from home to school, for therapy appointments and to provide access to extracurricular activities may be provided to students residing in the district as determined by the IEP (Individualized Education Program) team. The specific needs of the student must be the primary consideration when an IEP team is determining any transportation needs.
If transportation may be necessary, the IEP team should complete the "Transportation Eligibility Criteria" form. This form is designed to assist the team in reviewing the options and assuring that the service is required. The form must be completed during initial transportation determination and included in the IEP when transportation is provided. The form documents the team's decision and allows for administrative processing of the authorized service.
Infant and preschool students may require transportation unless the service is taken to the student's location or parent participation is a requirement of the service delivery model, such as in the Early Start Program.
Nonpublic Schools (NPS) may include the costs of
transportation in their billing when it is provided directly or by contract
with a third party bus company.
Transportation is not provided when the student is placed in the neighborhood school and can use the standard mode of transportation used by age-appropriate peers from the neighborhood. Consideration should be taken regarding the effect that the location of a placement will have on the length of time that a student has to travel to or from school each day. Placements should not be made solely on a "space available" basis. If a student is receiving services outside of his/her residence area, the placement should be reviewed at least annually in order to determine if a placement closer to the student's residence would be appropriate.
The district of residence may provide the transportation services or contract with a parent, private vendor or regionalized service. The district may choose the provider that offers the least expensive method of transporting all students requiring the service.
The suspension of a student receiving special education services from bus transportation can constitute a significant change in placement if the district: 1) has been transporting the student; 2) suspends the student from transportation as a disciplinary measure; 3) does not provide another mode of transportation. A significant change of placement requires a meeting of the IEP team to review the student's IEP. During the period of any exclusion from bus transportation, students must be provided with an alternative form of transportation at no cost to the student or parent in order to be assured of having access to the required special education instruction and services.
There is no statutory limit on the amount of time a student spends on a bus trip to/from school. The IEP Team must be aware of transit times when making a placement in the least restrictive environments. District administrators must remain vigilant in assuring trip times are reasonable given each student's age and unique needs.