Transportation is a related service under the IDEA and includes “travel to and from school and between schools, travel in and around school buildings, and specialized equipment (such as special or adapted buses, lifts, and ramps), if required to provide special transportation for a child with a disability.” [34 C.F.R. §§ 300.34(a) and (c)(16)] Not all children with disabilities require transportation; each child’s IEP team must determine if transportation is required to enable the student to access education and receive a FAPE. Put another way, only when a child’s IEP team determines that transportation is necessary for the child to benefit from special education is a school obligated to provide such a service.
The regulations that implement the IDEA and Arizona State Board of Education rules are silent as to the amount of time a child with a disability can spend on the bus. However, it is logical to assume that if a child requires transportation as a related service, then the school day would begin when the child gets on the school bus. Although the length of a school day is not addressed in the IDEA, as a general rule the length of a school day for a student eligible for special education should not be longer or shorter than a school day for a non-disabled peer. “However, if a child’s IEP Team determines a child needs a shorter or extended school day in order to receive [a] FAPE, then appropriate modifications should be incorporated into the IEP. However, these modifications must be based on the unique needs of the child, as determined by the IEP team, and not solely based on the child’s transportation time.” [Questions and Answers on Serving Children with Disabilities Eligible for Transportation, Question B-1 (OSERS 2009)] See the entire IDEA Q & A on Transportation from 2009.
No. “The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not require [schools] to transport children with disabilities in separate vehicles, isolated from their peers. In fact, many children with disabilities can receive the same transportation provided to non-disabled children, consistent with the least restrictive environment requirements in 34 C.F.R. §§300.39(a)(2)(ii) and 300.39(b)(4).” [Questions and Answers on Serving Children with Disabilities Eligible for Transportation, Question A-2 (OSERS 2009) See the entire IDEA Q & A on Transportation from 2009.
“Effective communication between schools and transportation providers is essential, including communication about transportation needs and potential problems of children with disabilities. To the extent appropriate, school personnel in [schools] should ensure that school bus drivers or other transportation providers are well informed about protecting the confidentiality of student information related to (1) the special needs of individual children with disabilities who ride on school buses with their general education peers, and (2) possible strategies and assistance that may be available to drivers(including the use of aides on buses).” [Questions and Answers on Serving Children with Disabilities Eligible for Transportation, Question D-1 (OSERS 2009)] See the entire IDEA Q & A on Transportation from 2009.
Arizona Revised Statutes, in regard to open enrollment, state in pertinent part as follows: “The governing board of the district educating the pupil shall provide transportation limited to no more than twenty miles each way to and from the school of attendance or to and from a pickup point on a regular transportation route, or for the total miles traveled each day to an adjacent district for nonresident pupils with disabilities whose individualized education program specifies that transportation is necessary for fulfillment of the program.” [A.R.S. § 15-816.01(C)] This means that the district educating the child under its open enrollment policy must provide transportation for the total miles traveled each day (even if it exceeds 20 miles) for a student with a disability whose IEP specifies transportation as a related service, provided that student resides in an adjacent school district.