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15Jan2018

School Bus Transportation of Special Need Students: An Overview

Ordinarily, parents seek school bus transportation for safely transporting students with special needs. Even though safety rules differ from one state to another, there are certain skills that every person, who handles special need students should be aware of.

What are the legal requirements of special need transportation?

As per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in the United States, every school should provide education to all the eligible students with disabilities. Arguably, along with educational needs, the students with special needs also require proper facility that ensures safe transportation.

Nevertheless, while developing training materials for drivers and caretakers, they should have an awareness of their legal requirements.

Training for utilization of special equipment

Of course, a driver may receive appropriate training for handling school bus students. In addition to this general training, drivers should have an awareness regarding the special equipment utilized by students with disabilities. Actually, this kind of training or awareness is necessary as improper handling of their special equipment (such as wheelchair lifts) may create severe injuries to students with special needs.

Recognize the needs of disabled students

As a driver, it is your responsibility to understand the needs and attitude differences of each student travelling in the school bus. However, each situation demands different responses on the basis of needs and abilities of student transporting in a school bus.

Consequently, you should be aware of the typical disability of each student transporting in a school bus, and henceforth recognizes the medical situations and respond accordingly. This is highly essential during the evacuation process, where you should understand what each student is capable of with or without your support and act correspondingly in the situation.

Categories of students with special needs

  1.  Orthopedic damage
  2.  Deaf or blindness
  3.  Blurred vision or partial vision loss
  4.  Dyslexia or other learning disability
  5.  Multiple disability
  6.  Autism
  7.  Emotional disturbance
  8.  Aphasia or speech or language disability
  9. Hearing disability or deafness
  10. Brain injury
  11. Developmentally delayed
  12. Mental retardation
  13. Other health impairment

Tools for training the school transportation authorities

Presumably, you will be able to obtain sufficient training materials and resources via government and private organisations. Meanwhile, providing resources along with training can be beneficial, as you can develop further skills to transport children with special needs safely to and from school.

Another set of tools is special needs routing software, which consists of school bus student tracking system and route optimization techniques, ensuring safe routes and thereby, receive a guarantee that each student reached the destination harmlessly.

Responsibilities of parent, student, bus driver, and bus attendant

Parent's role in special needs transportation

  • Ensure that your child is made ready 5 minutes prior to the pick up time
  • Guide your child to the curb
  • Notify relevant authorities whenever the child does not need transportation
  • Your contact number, address, and child care arrangements should be informed earlier to the school authorities
  • Instruct the driver to proceed if the driver waits longer than 5 minutes at the bus stop
  • Make sure that you are present at drop off time, so that drivers can safely entrust your child back to you
  •  In case you are unable to reach the bus stop, inform the authorities to return the child to school or consign to the police officials

Student's responsibilities

  • Always maintain proper discipline inside the school bus
  • Report school bus related issues either to school bus driver or attendant
  • Prepare yourself to receive suspension, detention, suspension from school bus riding or meeting with the Principal for improper school bus behavior

School bus driver's responsibilities

  • Ensure that you attain appropriate training and a valid driver's license
  • Have proper authentication indicating they are working for the school
  • Understand that you are responsible for the safety of school bus students and follow the scheduled school bus timing
  • Fulfill the role of a school bus attendant in their absence

Bus attendant's responsibilities

  • Assist the drivers to ensure that students are safe on the school bus
  • Have a proper awareness to utilize equipment such as wheelchairs, seat belts, and other supports (walkers, elbow crutches, etc.) of students with special needs
  • Maintain school bus discipline by checking whether the students stay in their seat, and report issues to the relevant authorities
  • Pursue emergency help whenever needed
  • Refer the alterations of the attendant's duties is clearly specified in the student's Individual Education Plan (IEP)
  • You are authorized to stay with students both in and around the school bus

As a matter of fact, you can relish special needs transportation as an opportunity to induce positive influence on the disabled students instead of considering it as a risk or challenge. Moreover, you have a great role in encouraging them to fulfill their goals, as they spend a considerable time with you, through school bus transportation.

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School Bus Transportation of Special Need Students: An Overview
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