Are you the parent of a child with autism or a physical disability receiving special education services? Does your child need transport services? Do you think special education personnel are not truthful about what the Federal Special Education Act (IDEA 2004) says about transportation? This article will discuss 5 lies that are commonly told to parents about transportation. Also, discussion on how to overcome these lies to help your child get needed transportation services.
Lie 1: We can keep your child on the bus for as long as we want. While IDEA 2004 does not address the length of bus travel, long bus journeys can adversely affect a child’s education (causing stress, negative behaviour). The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) stated in a policy letter to anonymous (1993) bus rides can be discriminatory and can result in denial of FAPE. Why might a long bus ride be discriminatory? If children with disabilities are on the bus longer than children without disabilities, this could be considered discrimination.
Lie 2: Nobody says we have to provide transportation for your child and we won’t. Transportation is considered a related service and must be provided to a child if they need it so that they can receive a free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
Lie 3: The transport director decides if a child needs transport and not the IEP team. In an OSEP document titled Questions and Answers on Service to Eligible Children with Disabilities for Transportation, OSEP states: “The IEP team is responsible for determining whether transportation is needed to help a child with a disability benefit from an education special and related services…” If your child needs transportation, make sure it is listed on your child’s IEP as a related service (if your child is not traveling on a regular school bus).
Lie 4: The state says we can get your child to school 15 minutes late every day and take them out 15 minutes early due to transportation issues. Ask the school to show you written documentation showing that they have the right to do what they want to do. In the example above you might ask, “Please show me in writing where it states that our state Department of Education is allowing education to be stopped due to transportation issues!”
Actually the aforementioned OSEP document clarifies that the school day for a child with disabilities should not be longer or shorter than the school day for general education students. Since a child would receive less educational time, this could also be a denial of FAPE.
Lie 5: If you want your child to participate in extracurricular activities, then you have to provide transportation, we don’t have to. Actually IDEA 2004 states that a child with a disability has the right to transport for necessary extracurricular as well as extracurricular activities. Make sure the extracurricular activity is listed on your child’s IEP and also requires transportation to participate in the activity.
How do you overcome these lies about transportation?
1. Find out about the carry requirements in IDEA 2004 (which is the Federal Special Education Act). I use the book Special Education Law 2nd edition by Peter and Pam Wright which is great. This book and much more parental advocacy information is available at: http://www.wrightslaw.com.
2. Call your state’s Parent Training and Information Center (PTIC) for help advocating for transportation issues.
3. Bring all of the above information to an IEP meeting to assist in your defense.
Good luck in your defense!