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Meeting the needs of people with disabilities, their families, educators & service providers

Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

District’s failure to provide transportation to a student with autism denies FAPE.

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

In re Student With a Disability, 59 IDELR 180 (NY SRO 2012):  The New York State Education Department’s State Review Officer (SRO) affirmed an impartial hearing officer’s (IHO) determination that a student with autism required transportation as a related service.  There was no dispute that the student’s autism, ADHD, language disorder, and asthma, resulted in his inability to walk to school safely.  Specifically, the parent noted the student had an “underdeveloped sense of danger and boundaries which required constant redirection to maintain his focus.”  However, the district denied the request for door-to-door transportation, since the student did not have any “ambulatory” or “mobility” impairments.  The SRO rejected such bases, noting that there is no prerequisite that a student have an ambulatory impairment in order to qualify for specialized transportation.  Accordingly, the district was required to provide transportation (although the SRO expressed no opinion as to the appropriate mode of transportation).

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District’s specific transportation plan for diabetic student satisfies Section 504.

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Stafford County (VA) Public Schools, 60 IDELR 51 (OCR 2012):  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) concurred with a school district’s plan to accommodate a student’s diabetic needs while she rode the bus.  The school district’s plan for the student included notifying the bus driver of the student’s diabetes (including training to recognize symptoms of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia), having a copy of her emergency care plan on the bus, and having extra supplies on the bus.  Also, the student would be allowed to bring food and drink on the bus.  Such accommodations satisfied the district’s responsibilities under Section 504.

Also, OCR recognized the sufficiency of the district’s use of a “Substitute Care Plan” to ensure that substitute teachers are aware of the needs of diabetic students and can rely on the building nurse to ensure the student receives proper diabetic care.  However, Section 504 does not necessarily require that a school district train its substitute teachers in basic diabetic care.

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District must transport home school student to site of related services.

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Andes Central School District v. King, 59 IDELR 48 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2012):  A state court upheld the New York State Education Department’s (NYSED) determination that a school district was required to transport a home schooled student with multiple disabilities to the site at which she received her related services (including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy).

The Court noted that federal law requires districts to transport parentally-placed private school students from the child’s home to the site of special education services (and under New York State law, students on a home instruction program are deemed to be nonpublic school students).  The Court specifically rejected the district’s argument that, in order to qualify for transportation, the student must demonstrate a need for special transportation (which would, presumably, be identified on the IEP).  Accordingly, the Court affirmed NYSED’s determination.

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School district may violate IDEA by not providing notice of procedural safeguards and by requiring parent to transport student.

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Doe v. Attleboro Public Schools, 57 IDELR 132 (D. Mass. 2011): Parents of a student with pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (on the autism spectrum) appealed an administrative hearing officer’s dismissal of their claim for reimbursement for transportation of their son to a different school within the school district. The Court determined the dismissal was in error, and remanded the matter back to the hearing officer.

The parents wanted their son to attend a specific elementary school so that he would have an enclosed classroom (in which the walls go from floor to ceiling) as opposed to open classrooms (in which the classrooms are not divided by traditional walls). Based on the student’s needs, his parents argued that he required an enclosed classroom. As a condition of the student attending school in an enclosed classroom, the district required the parents to sign an agreement requiring them to transport the student. In doing so, the district also did not provide the parents with notice of their procedural safeguards. Based on the failure to provide such notice, the parents may not have been aware of their ability to challenge the decision to place the student in an open classroom. Therefore, the Court remanded the matter back to the hearing officer for further proceedings to address those issues.

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Out-of-date transportation reimbursement policy deprives parents of free appropriate public education.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Washoe County (NV) School District, 55 IDELR 234 (OCR 2010):  The federal Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), informed a school district that it failed to provide educational and related services without cost to the parents of disabled students when it did not fully reimburse parents for costs incurred in transporting their children to and from school.

The school district had a policy of reimbursing for $0.18 per mile for one round trip per school day.  Later in the school year, the policy was amended to $0.50.5 per mile, not to exceed $10 for one round trip per school day.  The parents of six students with disabilities applied for reimbursement pursuant to this policy.  Of those, two had transportation listed as a related service on their IEPs.  OCR determined that each of the six students’ parents were entitled to reimbursement for their transportation, including two round trips to school per day, due to the school district’s obligation to provide related services without costs to the parent.  As a result, the school district violated Section 504 by not providing full reimbursement to the parents.

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District’s failure to transport student to ESY program constitutes denial of FAPE

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Wilson v. District of Columbia, 56 IDELR 125 (D.D.C. 2011): Overturning the decision of an administrative hearing officer, the court concluded that a student with multiple disabilities was denied a free appropriate public education (FAPE) when the school district failed to transport him to the first three weeks of a four week extended school year (ESY) program.  The hearing officer had determined that although the school district had failed to fully implement the student’s IEP, the student was not denied a FAPE since there was no evidence that the student suffered from any education harm.  However, the court determined that the hearing officer applied the wrong legal standard.  While not every failure to implement a student’s IEP amounts to an IDEA violation, the failure to implement “substantial or significant” aspects of a student’s IEP shall be deemed as a denial of FAPE.  After finding that the “substantial or significant” standard was met, the court remanded the case to the hearing officer for a determination as to the appropriate amount of compensatory education services, if any, the student needs in order to place him in the same place he would have been if had not been denied a FAPE.

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Bus suspension is to be treated the same as an instructional suspension; a student’s transportation needs are to be determined by the IEP team.

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Questions and Answers on Serving Children with Disabilities Eligible for Transportation, 53 IDELR 268 (OSERS 2009): The U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (“OSERS”) issued one of a series of question and answer documents to address issues raised by requests for clarification.  The issue addresses questions relating to transportation.

Transportation is a related service under federal special education regulations and the student’s IEP team is responsible for determining if transportation is necessary for a student with a disability to benefit from special education and related services.  OSERS also explained that the IDEA does not require school districts to transport children in isolation from their peers (such as in separate vehicles).  Instead, districts should “explore options for integrating children with disabilities with nondisabled students.”  Transportation providers, such as bus drivers, should also be informed about the students’ needs, while also being made familiar with protecting the confidentiality of student information.

In addition, OSERS noted that if transportation is included in the student’s IEP, a suspension from the bus is to be treated the same as if the student were suspended from instruction.  If the school district transports the student through an IEP, a suspension may constitute a change in placement, especially if the district does not provide any alternative transportation.

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