Photo by Bob Harmon
Providing school bus service can be challenging, particularly in light of the budget constraints that many operations face today, but transporting students with special needs can present an additional set of challenges.
When I was working on our annual Special-Needs Survey earlier this year, a question that I asked respondents was, “What is your biggest challenge in providing transportation for special-needs students?”
Due to the range of answers, that data didn’t make it into the survey in chart form, but here are some of the responses:
• Students placed in individualized programs — length of travel to assigned school — creating additional routes — one student/one bus/one driver situations.
• Distinguishing between what the student truly needs for transportation and what the parent wants for their child in transportation.
• Behavior management and medication transport.
• Driver/aide awareness of different disabilities.
• Working with [the] special-ed department. We never receive information on special-ed students that would be useful in problem solving.
Do you face these or other challenges? If so, have you found a way to address them to make transporting special-needs students at your operation go more smoothly? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
(Incidentally, Pete Meslin, transportation director at Newport-Mesa Unified School District in Costa Mesa, Calif., wrote an article for SBF
in 2008 that includes information on how to build a good working relationship with special-education departments. To read the article, click here
Despite handling these types of issues, it seems to me that providing school bus service to special-needs students would be rewarding. I say this not just from my own experience talking with people who have special needs (which I’ve found inspiring), but also from speaking with people in the industry who are passionate about their line of work.
Recently, Keith Henry, director of transportation at Independence (Mo.) School District, relayed to me some feelings that one of his special-needs bus drivers, who is taking a speaking class, shared with him about her job. I think it sums up well the positive impact that children with special needs can have on our lives.
The driver, who prefers to remain anonymous, wrote the following:
“My student didn’t understand the importance of sitting in his seat belt and most likely didn’t want the restraint. We learned about ‘konk’ and ‘bonk’ and ‘Mr. Whip-and-Lash.’
"My student has cerebral palsy and cannot control most of his limbs, or even his speech, yet he touches souls, evokes laughter and brightens my days as a bus driver.
"What can I do to teach and make this world a better place for a beautiful child who, through no fault of his own, has circumstances that we take for granted? Or, in reality, has this child taught me humility, faith and grace?
"Through the eyes of a child we must seek knowledge and pass it forward.”
What do you find most gratifying about serving special-needs students?
Until next time,
| posted on Friday, February 24, 2012 9:52 AM