If your child needs accommodations and specialized supports in the classroom, it’s likely they need similar services and support getting to and from school. However, when it comes to special needs transportation, there are many considerations to help your child get to school and home safely.
- You want to request transportation services in your child’s IEP.
- Explain why the service is necessary and how it will benefit your child.
- If your child’s IEP team determines that transportation is needed, you will work with your child’s IEP team to design your child’s transportation as a related service in their IEP.
Why are Transportation Accommodations Important?
Transportation is considered a related service under the Individuals with Education Act (IDEA). Most school districts offer transportation for students with disabilities. Each district has its unique transportation policies. Therefore, it’s essential to check with your district to find out what they are. These policies also can vary from state to state. Having accommodations in your child’s IEP can ensure that your child has safe transportation that meets their needs.
School districts are responsible for transporting your child to and from school safely and promptly. In some areas, districts provide door-to-door transportation for students with disabilities. In other areas, districts provide buses that stop near the homes of students with disabilities. Every child’s situation is different, so it is essential to ask about transportation when developing your child’s IEP.
How Can I Get Approval for Transportation Accommodations or Other Services?
The first thing to do is to call the school district and let them know that you want to add special education accommodations or other services to your child’s IEP. You can also ask to have a current service removed from the IEP. If you want to add or remove a service from the IEP, you and your child’s teacher (or other special education service providers) must sign the IEP. The next step is to include transportation accommodations or other services in the IEP.
What are Common Accommodations?
The Individuals with Education Act (IDEA) defines transportation as travel to and from school, between schools, in and around school buildings, and specialized equipment if required to provide special education. In addition, bus attendants and drivers must have specialized training to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities.
You can use special education transportation accommodations to customize your child’s route and schedule to meet your child’s unique needs. Some of the more common special education accommodations include the following:
- Dedicated Aide – A dedicated aide can help your child.
- Automatic Door – Your child can go through the bus’s front door without climbing steps.
- Automatic Door/Rear Door Boarding – Your child can board the bus at the back door and exit at the rear door.
- Rear Door Exit – Your child can exit the bus at the back door to avoid climbing steps.
- Seating Accommodations – Your child can be placed in a seat where they can be safe during the ride. Your child can sit in a seat where they can activate the bus’s rear stop sign if needed.
- Stop Location – Your child’s bus can be rerouted to avoid a dangerous intersection. Your child’s bus can arrive at a different stop than other students.
- Brake/Stop Time – Your child’s bus can depart earlier or later to accommodate therapeutic services. The bus driver can activate/deactivate the bus read stop sign.
- Stop Safety – Your child can have a well-lit and safe stop.
- Door Location – Your child’s bus can be rerouted to avoid a dangerous intersection.
- Door Safety – Your child’s bus can have a well-lit and safe stop.
- Headphone Communication – Your child can use a device that allows them to communicate with the bus driver.
- Lift/Ramp – The bus can have a lift or ramp for a child who uses a wheelchair.
- Retarder/Hazard Warning – The bus can have a retarder or hazard warning lights. If your child’s bus drives through a dangerous intersection, the bus driver can activate lights that alert drivers to the bus’s presence.
- School Bus Wheelchair Securement – The bus can have securement devices that meet your child’s needs.
Other Types of Accommodations to Consider
There are many other accommodations to consider when asking for accommodations, including the following:
- Door-to-door transportation – The school district provides transportation directly to your child’s home. This can be a great option if your child has a medical condition that requires a specific schedule. You can also ask for this accommodation for a child who has experienced trauma and might not be comfortable riding the bus with other students.
- Child-sized van – Instead of a school bus, the district can provide a van that is child-sized. This is often an excellent option for younger special needs children who might not feel safe riding the bus with older children.
- Additional time for transit – Your child’s route includes stops where other children are picked up and dropped off. Your child can have more time to avoid rushing to avoid disturbing other children.
Transportation is a related service that can be added to your child’s IEP. If your child needs transportation accommodations or other services involving transportation, use the steps described above to request it in writing. Remember, you are your child’s best advocate. If your child’s IEP determines that your child does need transportation accommodations and services, your child’s school must provide these services at no cost.