Busing is a perennial source of worry and confusion for parents at the start of each school year, even for those who have been through the process before. We hope this will help you understand the process and plan for the start of the school year.
Who is Entitled to Special Education Busing?
There are a few ways to get special education busing:
- If a student has “Special Transportation” checked off on their most recent IEP, they will receive busing. This generally appears toward the back of the IEP under the section “SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS.” The CSE should check the box for special transportation when the child has a medical issue requiring it (parent must submit documentation), or if the child is being recommended for a District 75 program, or if the child is being recommended for a NYS Approved Non-Public School (“defer to CBST”).
- New York State Education Law requires that school districts provide suitable transportation to children identified as having “handicapping conditions” who attend private schools for instruction similar to that recommended by the local school district. Unfortunately, the DOE has, in recent years, used the language about how the instruction must be “similar” to what is recommended on the IEP to deny busing to children attending non-approved (sometimes called "independent") private schools. We argue that a child whose IEP recommends a self-contained class is eligible for transportation.
By now, you may have had your CSE meeting and know whether or not busing has been checked off as a special education service on your child's IEP. If your child will be attending an independent private school and does not have busing checked off, you are no doubt wondering where this leaves you.
Can My Lawyer Get My Child Busing?
Sorry, but there is no quick yes or no answer to this question. When we file our statutorily required ten day notices for parents seeking tuition reimbursement for private schools, we request busing if you want us to. Unfortunately, in recent years the DOE has not been offering settlements that include busing.
When tuition reimbursement cases do not settle and go to an impartial hearing, we are able to ask a judge for busing as part of the final order. Busing is also part of pendency orders whenever a child’s prior IEP includes busing.
If you end up spending money on transporting your child to and from school, keep records of all of these costs and speak with your attorney before the school year begins. If your child's school has a private busing option and your child has not been recommended for transportation or a full-time special education program, we can attempt to get this reimbursed as part of your claim—keep proof of payment and contracts.
Here’s the good news: In our experience, once a child has busing and the school placement remains the same, the DOE tends to provide it automatically in subsequent years.
Next week, in part two of this article, we will discuss how to troubleshoot problems with busing once the school year begins.