Policy Proposed by Boston Public Schools Potentially Violates Disabled Student’s Rights:

The recommendations, presented to the School Committee on Wednesday night, respond to years of late buses and rising transportation costs. The concerns were so persistent that the state of Massachusetts demanded the city improve under a plan signed by both parties last year.

A consultant hired by the district to overhaul Boston’s long-struggling school bus system is recommending many potentially contentious solutions, including adjusting school hours, limiting which students can ride buses, and reevaluating whether every disabled student who receives door-to-door service should continue to do so.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act(IDEA) established the right to a “free and appropriate public education” for children with qualifying disabilities from birth to 21 years of age. These children qualify for school-provided transportation as a “related service” to reach educational institutions and medical services as needed. Other services available as part of an IEP include therapies, counseling, and medical services such as urinary catheterization.

Under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, if a student with an IEP cannot travel to and from school in the same manner as non-disabled students due to a disability, the district must provide transportation for the student. Generally, this refers to door-to-door transportation between home and school. If a student requires transportation to benefit from their education, the district must provide it.

Districts can contract with an outside provider for a student’s transportation, but this does not absolve the district of its transportation responsibilities. The district continues to be in charge of transportation. Additionally, when a student requires special transportation equipment or accommodations, the district must provide those items or make the necessary adjustments.

Specific temperature requirements or additional transport routes could be considered accommodations. Equipment could include a ramp, a lift, restraints, a seatbelt, a car seat, phones, or walkie-talkies. Districts are expected to provide whatever is necessary to transport students to and from school securely, regardless of cost or inconvenience.

Disabled students are allowed to access the same educational opportunities as their non-disabled peers. Boston Public Schools should be able to find a solution to their transportation issues. However, it is not a fair solution if disabled students lose the transportation services to which they are legally entitled.


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Chamberlain, Steven P., and Theresa L. Earles-Vollrath. ‘Mitchell Yell: IDEA 1997 and Related Services’. Intervention in School and Clinic, vol. 39, no. 4, SAGE Publications Inc, Mar. 2004, pp. 236–239, https://doi.org10.1177/10534512040390040601.

O’Neil, Joseph, et al. ‘School Bus Transportation of Children With Special Health Care Needs’. Pediatrics, vol. 141, no. 5, May 2018, p. e20180513, https://doi.org10.1542/peds.2018-0513.

The Council on School Health, et al. ‘Role of the School Nurse in Providing School Health Services’. Pediatrics, vol. 137, no. 6, June 2016, p. e20160852, https://doi.org10.1542/peds.2016-0852.

Vaznis, James. “How to Get Boston School Buses to Run on Time? Consultant Makes Several Controversial Proposals.” The Boston Globe, Boston Globe Media Partners, 12 Jan. 2023, https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/01/11/metro/outside-consultant-recommends-changes-bps-operations-get-buses-run-time/?p1=BGSearch_Advanced_Results.

Wiscarson, Diane. “Transportation and Special Education Students – What Rights Do Students Have?” Spectrum Life Magazine, Autism Empowerment , 10 Feb. 2018, https://www.spectrumlife.org/blog/transportation-and-special-education-students-what-rights-do-students-have.

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