Monday, June 30, 2008

Bus Number What?

My school district does an adequate job at some things. They even do a really good job at other things. (Usually those other things do not involve children with special needs though.) But there is one thing that they do a really, really bad job at, at least in my opinion, and that is bus service for children with disabilities.

The regular school year ended just two weeks ago. Ashley, however, goes to school year round (ESY services). Since the regular school year ended and the summer services began, Ashley has had four different bus drivers and four different bus aides. The bus pickup time in the morning has changed twice already as has the bus return home time. Setting aside the fact that none of the eight drivers or aides can communicate with Ashley (they know no sign language), doesn’t anyone in school administration understand how disconcerting significant change can be to a child with a disability? Ashley is a little more understanding than some of her peers, but I have seen children with autism refuse, absolutely refuse, to get on a bus if it is a different type of bus or staffed with different people. And so far, I have been given no explanation as to why the bus staff and the schedules have to change with such alarming frequency.

I imagine it is not an easy job to plan bus routes and schedules, especially in a school district as large as mine. But I have to wonder if anyone from the special education staff is ever asked for input on issues surrounding the transport of children with disabilities. As a parent, I have never addressed transportation issues in the IEP process, but it may be time to do so.


trish @ Another piece of the puzzle said...

Isn't it a crazy thing? I spent a lot of time last week dealing with transportation issues myself, and it can be so incredibly frustrating.

mommy~dearest said...

Yes! It is absolutely time to do so! We adressed it at Jaysen's IEP, and got them to agree that there will be 2 bus drivers- one for pick up and one for drop off. If they're not willing to go that route, see if they'll keep the aide on the bus the same.

Communication again. C'mon people. What if the bus breaks down (which does happen), and there's nobody who can communicate to Ashley what's going on? Nope. You have every right to address it.

Go get 'em Tiger! ;)

Penny L. Richards said...

Bus service has been really, shockingly bad here this summer too. We live in the same zipcode as my son's current school program, it's at a site I can *walk* to in under an hour, streets are in a fairly regular grid pattern, so.... why was my boy home an hour late twice last week? Why did I have to drive him to school three of the four mornings?

I hate pulling the "delicate princeling" card, but we ended up having an IEP addendum signed last week that requires him to be last on, first off. Hate that, because I know that's just putting other families in a hard place, but it was the only way to make it a right-now priority that my kid wasn't sweating and seizing on a hot summer bus for an hour every afternoon. Some sensible route planning would make such measures unnecessary, and keep all the kids more comfortable.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. We have poor system here too. Once the driver sped right by me forgetting to drop M off. Argh.

Aides as well....had to fight tooth and nail to get one of those. It would make sense for the buses to have an aide no matter what considering all the specific health needs of the children. So frustrating.