Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bus Discrimination


I wonder how many hours I've spent over the last 15 years working on school transportation issues for my kids? I'm sure it would be a large number. Just earlier this year, working through one, what seemed like a relatively simple transportation issue, involved 6 people from the school district and resulted in 62 emails before the issue was resolved.

And here we go again...

Ronnie will be 17 years old in a month. He is a junior in high school. He rides what my school district lovingly calls "special transportation" only because he uses a wheelchair and cannot be accommodated on "regular transportation."

Kids that ride regular transportation usually have to walk a block or two to catch the school bus in the morning and then to return home in the afternoon. There is no door-to-door regular transportation. The doors of the regular transportation busses open up, the kids exit, and once they are out of the street, the bus driver goes on his/her merry way. Of course, the parents of elementary age students often wait at the bus stop for their children, but middle and high school students find their own way home every day.

So, when Ronnie and I decided that it would be ok for him to exit his bus, door-to-door transportation because it is "special" and not "regular", and find his way to the end of the driveway and up our ramp into the house, we didn't expect any problems from the bus driver or aide. He needs no assistance pushing his chair, and he had never once forgotten where the ramp and the door are. In fact, during the summer, he actually goes half a block, BY HIMSELF, to our neighborhood pool.

But apparently we were wrong. The bus driver refused to leave the street in front of our home until she 'saw' me or my oldest son there.

I tried explaining that this level of independence was something Ronnie would need as he transitioned from school to the work force. I tried explaining that he was perfectly capable of getting himself into the house. I even explained that someone was always at home waiting for him, but we wanted him to get used to being more self-sufficient. But to no avail...

This seems a touch discriminatory to me. Students without physical disabilities do not need parental escorts into the house at the end of each school day. So why should Ronnie?

Want to take any bets on how many emails it will take to resolve this issue???

4 comments:

Lauren said...

I think it's a legal issue. Not something to try to discriminate, they just HAVE to. I know I've heard the same thing from my drivers, and they've said it to my parents.

Anonymous said...

I have a 9yr old son with sma type 2. Weak muscles all over and in a powerchair. So far we've been very lucky with the bus drivers and aids. His aid has been with him since preschool and we request her. Often the bus drivers would solve any transportation problems. Before I learned to request in his IEP that other choldren be on the bus with him, one year, they were transporting him alone. The bus drivers were concerned about that and fixed it. I have repeatedly told transportation that I would gladly take him to and from the regular bus stop, but they insist on coming to the house. At one point his aid asked how much of his lunch he had to eat before he could have ice cream. I told her no other kid has someone overseeing his eating at school, so he can do what he wants. It's a tricky thing, but most of the time it works out fine and we prevail. I feel so lucky.

MMC said...

Lauren is likely at least partially right - everybody gets way too hung up on liability these days. But just because it's "legal" doesn't mean they HAVE to.

If you really have trouble (and something tells me you will), I would suggest you tell whomever that you would be willing to sign a paper releasing the board and transportation company from any liability once Ronnie gets off the bus.

Ashley's Mom said...

Seems there is a form in my school district that transportation has on file and was filled out by Ronnie's teacher. On that form is a checkbox that indicates a child must be met by an adult.

I'm trying now to get that form changed and *think* I have the teacher's support. We'll see...

The good news - Ronnie didn't get dumped in the ditch by the afternoon bus staff either yesterday or the day before :)