School transportation providers must understand their legitimate educational need for access to confidential student information and their responsibility to protect it. Applicable laws and rules include the regulations implementing Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (Subtitle B—Education for Homeless Children and Youth) ensures educational rights and protections for children and youth experiencing homelessness. Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) must provide students experiencing homelessness with transportation to and from their school of origin upon request of parents, guardians, or the LEA Homeless Liaison.
Transportation of preschool age children to school and Head Start programs in school buses has become commonplace, and in many cases required. Transporting infants and very young children in school buses presents unique challenges that providers must consider, especially the safe selection of child safety restraint systems (CSRSs) and their proper securement in the school bus environment.
Parents of students enrolled in Title I schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) for at least three consecutive years must be provided meaningful school choice options, including transportation, consistent with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 NCLBA) and its implementing regulations and guidance. NCLBA also contains other transportation-related provisions, such as required services for homeless students under McKinney-Vento.
The individual needs of students transported to special programs are often met by providing special equipment for the student and on the bus. These can include transportable wheelchairs or other special seating devices, wheelchair tiedowns and occupant restraint systems (WTORS), wheelchair lifts, climate control, and means to safely secure special equipment such as oxygen tanks during transport.
Serving children with special needs on school buses can be a challenging part of the school day for transportation personnel. While the number of students with disabilities requiring transportation services continues to rise, so do their requirements for specialized equipment, assistive devices and safe operational practices. These factors raise the standard of care for everyone in the school bus transportation industry.