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Early Childhood Frequently Asked Questions

School Transportation

My child is 5 years old and attends a childcare program before and after school. The IEP states that transportation will be provided from childcare to school and back to childcare again. The school district has informed me that the childcare providers are responsible for taking my child to the bus and for meeting the bus when it returns. Isn’t the bus driver responsible for getting my child on and off the bus safely?

Yes, it is the responsibility of the bus driver or the bus aide to help your child get on and off the bus safely. However, the childcare provider is responsible to walk your child to the bus and to meet the bus and bring your child into the childcare center when it returns.

Who is responsible for delivering students from their home to the school bus?

It’s up to the parents to have their child meet the school bus at the street, curb, or driveway. Sometimes, however, other arrangements may be agreed to through the IFSP, IEP, or Section 504 process. School districts must follow such arrangements.

How much help should a school bus driver or bus assistant give a student who is boarding or leaving the bus?

It depends on the needs of the child. If help is required, it should be specified in the child’s IFSP, IEP, or Section 504 plan. State law requires drivers and aides to help pupils with disabilities on and off the bus when necessary for safety or if written into their plan.

Is there a limit to how much time a student with a disability can spend on a school bus?

No. State law says the transportation time should be appropriate to the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of the child. In general, a child with a disability should not spend more time in transit than a child without a disability.

My child’s day care program is near my office—but it’s not in my school district. Will the school district still provide transportation from there to my child’s special education program?

School districts must transport students with disabilities to and from day care just as they do for students without disabilities. The two locations must be within the district, however, and the child must be transported to the same place each time. Exceptions to district policy can be made by the student’s IFSP, IEP, or 504 team.

Can the school district make parents provide transportation?

No. The school district is responsible for transporting students with disabilities. If the school district offers reasonable transportation and the parents decline the offer, the district is not obligated to reimburse the parents for transportation. Sometimes, however, the district and parents may agree in writing to alternative arrangements. For instance, parents may be willing or even prefer to transport their child themselves and the district may agree to reimburse them for mileage.

What training is required for school bus drivers?

Every year, school bus drivers receive training and must prove that they are competent in six areas. All drivers must show that they can safely operate the bus; understand student behavior (including issues relating to students with disabilities); ensure orderly conduct and handle any misconduct appropriately; understand relevant laws and safety policies; handle emergencies; and safely load and unload students.

Is a bus aide required when transporting a student with disabilities?

The student’s IFSP, IEP, or Section 504 team makes this decision, based on such factors as the severity of the student’s disability, distance traveled, density of population, terrain, and the need to assist or control the behavior of the student.

Are emergency health cards required in vehicles used to transport students with disabilities?

Yes. State law says that drivers or aides transporting students with disabilities on special school bus routes must have a typewritten card in the vehicle that includes the pupil’s name and address; the nature of his or her disabilities; emergency health care information; the names and telephone numbers of the child’s physician, parents, guardians, or custodians, and an alternate emergency contact person. It is also recommended that the card include information on an alternate site where the student can be dropped off if nobody is at home. The law also recommends that an emergency card be on all buses where there is a student with a potential emergency health need.

When an infant or very young child rides a school bus, is a car seat required?

Although all Minnesota vehicles transporting children under the age of 4 are required to have a child passenger restraint system such as a car seat, exceptions can be made. If a licensed physician deems that a child cannot be transported safely in such restraints due to a medical condition, body size, or physical disability, the requirement can be waived. The bus driver must carry a current written statement from the physician, and the accommodation must be noted in the student’s IFSP, IEP, or Section 504 plan. Because large school buses are usually not equipped with factory-installed seat belts, school district personnel should work with the parents to determine whether a car seat is safe and appropriate for transporting their child in a school bus.