Individualized Education Programs are crucial to ensuring students with special needs receive the accommodations and support they need in the academic environment. In most cases, an IEP focuses on the protections for students inside the classroom. However, they can also address a student's needs while going to and from school.
If you have a child with special needs who rides the bus or other school-provided vehicle, making sure his or her IEP discusses any requirements or accommodations your child needs to travel safely will be important.
Your child might require a car seat, wheelchair, harness or other type of child safety restraint system. An IEP (or an Individual Transportation Plan) should specify this equipment and ensure it is available in whatever mode of transportation a child uses to get to and from school.
Aid in boarding or exiting the vehicle
There should be someone trained in helping a child load and exit a bus. This person should know how to use machinery on the bus, how to properly secure a child and any restrictions regarding weight or force. If an accident occurs, or if a child experiences a health event, these systems can be critical in protecting him or her so it is crucial that anyone tasked with transporting children with special needs takes seriously these responsibilities.
Assistance of qualified personnel
In some cases, it may be necessary for a school psychologist or other staff member to ride the bus with a child. As this article from the American Academy of Pediatrics notes, having someone on the bus can be helpful for children who have conditions that affect their aggression, impulse control or ability to comply with rules. Not only can this protect the child, it can also protect other children on the bus.
Ensuring an IEP addresses the needs of the child in all academic environments is crucial, and this includes the ride to and from school.
If you have any questions or concerns about the safety of your child on school-provided transportation, discussing them as soon as possible with administrators as well as a special education attorney can be critical in protecting your child.