5 lies about special education transportation and how you can overcome the lies and get your child

Are you the parent of a child with autism or a physical disability who receives special education services? Does your child need transportation services? Do you think special education staff are being disingenuous about what the federal special education law (IDEA 2004) says about transportation? This article will discuss 5 lies commonly told to parents about transportation. Also, discuss how to overcome these lies to help your child receive necessary 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 duration of the bus trip, long bus trips can negatively affect a child’s education (causing stress, negative behavior). Bus rides can be discriminatory and can result in denial of FAPE. Why can a long bus trip be discriminatory? If children with disabilities spend more time on the bus than children without disabilities, this could be considered discrimination.

Lie 2: No one 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 he or she needs the service, in order for them to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

Lie 3: The director of transportation makes decisions about whether a child needs transportation and not the IEP team. In an OSEP document titled Questions and Answers About Providing Services to Children with Disabilities Eligible for Transportation, the OSEP states that “The IEP team is responsible for determining whether transportation is required to help a child with a disability benefit from of special education and related services … “If your child needs transportation, make sure it is included in your child’s IEP as a related service (if the child does not ride the regular education bus).

Lie 4: The state says we can bring your child to school 15 minutes late every day and get him out 15 minutes early due to transportation problems. Ask the school to show you in writing any documentation that shows you have the right to do what you want to do. In the example above, you might ask, “Please show me in writing where you say our State Department of Education is allowing education to be shortened due to transportation issues!”

In reality, the above OSEP document makes it clear that the school day for a child with a disability 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, you must provide transportation, we don’t have to. In reality, IDEA 2004 states that a child with a disability has the right to transportation for required after-school activities as well as extracurricular activities. Make sure the extracurricular activity is included in your child’s IEP and also that they require transportation to participate in the activity.

How do you get over these transportation lies?

1. Learn about the transportation requirements in IDEA 2004 (which is the federal special education law). I use Peter and Pam Wright’s Special Education Law 2nd Edition book, which is fantastic. This book, as well as much more advocacy information for parents, can be found at: http://www.wrightslaw.com.

2. Call your state Parent Training and Information Center (PTIC) for help advocating for transportation issues.

3. Bring all of the information from prior to an IEP meeting to help you advocate.

Good luck in your defense!

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