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What legal rights do students have?

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Transportation and Special Education Students

What legal rights do students have? 

By Diane Wiscarson, Attorney at Law  –

School transportation is frequently a source of confusion, and even frustration, for students with Individual Education Programs (IEPs) and their families. When does the district have to provide transportation? Who decides how and when transportation occurs? Is transportation on my child’s IEP? How do I know what my rights are for my child’s transportation? Can my child have an aide on the bus? These are a few questions that come up every year before school starts, and for summer services.

Under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) transportation “as may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education” is a related service to be discussed at an IEP meeting. Transportation includes travel to/from school, travel between schools, and travel in and around school buildings. This article focuses on travel to/from school, and your child’s right to transportation.

Transportation decisions are made at IEP meetings on an individual basis. If a student with an IEP cannot get to/from school the same way as non-disabled students for a disability-related reason, then the district must provide transportation for the student. This generally means door-to-door transportation, both ways, between home and school. If the student needs transportation to benefit from education, the district supplies that transportation.

Types of Transportation 

Once the decision has been made by an IEP team that the child needs transportation, school districts choose the type of vehicle to transport the stud

Special Needs Transportation

Real Life Choices Transit

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Special Needs Transportation

All children deserve to be protected as occupants in motor vehicles in restraint systems appropriate for their size and development. However, some children who have certain medical conditions or procedures require special consideration when selecting restraints.

Regardless of whether or not a child's medical condition presents short-term or long-term challenges, a child should travel in a restraint system that provides optimum protection. Oftentimes, a conventional child safety seat will meet the safety and positioning needs of a child with special health care needs. Other times, an adaptive or specialized restraint will be necessary.

This section contains basic information about transporting children who have certain medical conditions or procedures. It is by no means all-inclusive. The information contained in this section was adapted from the curriculum, "Safe Travel for All Children: Transporting Children with Special Health Care Needs," developed by the Automotive Safety Program with funding from the National Safety Council. If you would like additional information or are interested in training opportunities, please contact the National Center for the Safe Transportation of Children with Special Healthcare Needs at  (908) 507-1197

Special Need Transportation

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Full Service Home to School


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Partnering with First Student for your student transportation allows you to improve performance while focusing on what matters most - providing quality educational programs to your students. 

From full turnkey contract operations to stepped levels of service, we put our experience to work, designing a custom transportation package specific to your community’s unique needs and goals. You remain in control – and gain a partner focused on delivering the results you need. 

Local Drivers and Staff

Our drivers and management teams are familiar, trusted faces in your community. We take pride in hiring and empowering local people who have as much passion as you do about getting your students to school safely and on time. With operations facilities located on or near your school district properties, you have complete access to your local operations team.  


Keeping your students safe is our number one priority. That’s why we’re constantly researching and developing innovations and technologies that improve driver and operating performance.  

Bus Ownership and Leasing

You may choose to own your buses or sell them to us for immediate capital replacement. Or we can purchase new buses to meet your transportation needs. Some districts also choose to lease school buses from First Student, providing another option for upgrading without worrying about the capital requirements associated with purchasing new buses. No matter which option you choose, our stringent maintenance programs keep them operating in a safe, reliable manner.

Expert Support Network

Your locally-based, knowledgeable team will have the power of a nationally-supported network of resources, providing support for everything from routing and maintenance, to training and recruiting.

  • Routing and logistics are powerful tools for your district to achieve on-time performance and to improve asset utilization. First Planning Solutions™, First Student’s dedicated routing team, uses a specialized approach to improve your fleet’s performance and manage costs. 
  • We know that safety starts with a well-maintained bus, so that’s why we implement a stringent maintenance program conducted by trained, certified technicians dedicated solely to your fleet. 
  • With our national purchasing power, you’ll enjoy quick availability, as well as significant discounts on vehicles and parts that school districts and other bus companies simply can’t attain.

Creating a Village for Your Special Needs Young Adult

A mother shares how she supports her son as he ages

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Kristin Jarvis Adams




Mother and son with backs to camera

While my son splashed through his first day with the local Special Olympics swim team, I scanned the faces surrounding the steamy caldron of our neighborhood swimming pool. I recognized a woman in the bleachers, unsure of how I knew her until her daughter slid gracefully out of the water and approached me with a slightly awkward gait.

Additional resources

For more opportunities for your young adult to begin building their village, browse through your local Parks & Recreation Guide for Adaptive Recreation Programs. Other great opportunities to connect in the Seattle area are Seattle Children’s Alyssa Burnett Adult Life CenterOutdoors for All FoundationThe Tavon Center and Friendship Adventures.

“You’re Andrew’s mom. You drive a red Toyota van,” she said, shaking huge droplets of water onto the pool deck.

I stared at her, remembering a little girl with brown hair and an intense smile, a girl who now lived in a woman’s body. “I am! I’m so happy to see you, Sarah! It’s been years,” I said, as she turned on her heels and walked away. Her mom glanced up from her phone and I waved as the two of them headed to the locker room.

Sarah is 23 years old and autistic. So is my son, Andrew. They were in the same classroom in the first grade, crisscrossing paths through elementary school. I hadn’t seen Sarah in 12 years, yet she recalled my red Toyota minivan from a first-grade field trip.

After practice that day, I lingered in the lobby with the other parents. Like me, their kids are grown but parenting remains a full-time job. We are a motley tribe of seasoned parents trying to figure out the best way to transition our kids from childhood into adulthood. 




«May 2024»



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