Thursday, July 21, 2011


I've been running into a lot of people with transportation issues lately, and I've had some myself so I think it's time to address transportation.  I'm betting it's due to the budget issues everyone is facing with our economy and also the price of gas going up and down.  No one can really budget properly for transportation so many districts are trying to get out of providing transportation at all.

The first transportation issue I saw was districts saying they would not provide transportation to children if the special education was offered at their home school.  There is nothing in special ed law that makes this legal.  If your child requires any kind of special assistance to get to and from school then they qualify for transportation.  If they would not be safe walking to and from school when other kids their age would be able to walk then they qualify for transportation.  If you were to drive your child to school and you cannot drop them off as you would another child the same age, they require transportation.  If your child requires SDC (Special Day Class) instruction you can be sure they qualify for transportation.  Children who only require RSP services usually don't qualify for transportation, but this is not set in stone.  If you have a child who only requires RSP services but has wandered off and gotten lost you have every right for them to receive transportation.  If another child who only receives RSP doesn't have an understanding of safety issues, they qualify for transportation.  This is about their individual needs as set forth in the IEP, it isn't about some "policy" set by the district that doesn't take your child's individual needs into account.

Another question that came up is of the district telling a parent that should they decide that their child should be in a program other than what the district suggests then transportation will no longer be available.  I'm sorry, but the parent is a part of the IEP TEAM and it is not appropriate to manipulate a TEAM member into agreeing to what the district wants by threatening to take away a service that is guaranteed by law.  I'm sure there are many other versions of this particular "policy", er manipulation, coercion, or threat, but none of them is legal.  Transportation is guaranteed by law.  Districts cannot just decide to use transportation to get what they want.

I read about a district near here that had instituted a policy that all children requiring transportation would have to go to their home school to be picked up to be transported to the location of their special education class.  This didn't last long!  And that's because it was so obviously out of compliance with federal law.  These parents were having to take their children to their home school up to an hour before school started so that the child could then be transported to another school (because of course they were picking up children from several different home schools), in the afternoon they would have to be at the home school to pick up the children.  So, if you have other children and they attend the home school these parents would have to go and drop off the child in special ed and then go back and take any other children to school and in the afternoon the process would just be reversed, adding up to a couple of extra hours per day of drop off and pick up to the mix.  And then it gets really confusing when you have kids at different schools, say a couple in elementary and one in Jr. high and then, the real fun starts when you have another one in high school too!  Forget trying to plan for after school activities!  And really, isn't this just insulting when we would really prefer that our child attends his or her home school with their siblings anyway?

Then there is the family that had transportation taken away in a settlement agreement.  It was just sort of "slipped" in there by the district's attorney, even though no one had agreed to it.  When confronted about the sleazeball tactic the attorney refused to go back and redraft the agreement, making a statement similar to "Let's not make trouble over something that small".  Hey if it was that SMALL why slip it in there in the first place?   The family went along just because the day had been so long and they didn't have anymore fight in them, but that was a poor decision.  It turns out there was more sleaze in that agreement - if you see a little sleaze inserted into an agreement, assume there is more and take your time!  Ask questions about what things mean that you may not understand.  Ask the district to leave the room so you can concentrate or you leave the room so you can concentrate on reading the entire agreement.

We have an issue with timing for transportation.  The district states they cannot transport after a certain time and our child will still need transportation after that time.  There is a solution, they can pay us to transport.  We will be paid for our mileage.  It doesn't help with figuring out how to manage after school activities for the other kids and getting her home, but at least it reduces the cost of transporting her that we have been covering for the last several months.  It may not be everything we had hoped for, but in the end it's better than what we were getting, and with everything else that is working so well I have to say life is getting pretty good!