The California Highway Patrol credited lap-shoulder seat belts with preventing severe injuries to special needs students in a recent school bus crash.
Sexual abuse occurring on the school bus is a subject no one wants to talk about. But a scan of the headlines uncovers far too many reported incidents, whether those involve only students or also school district employees.
Ask a group of student transportation drivers this question: "How many of you drive students with special needs?" You'll see a few hands go up from people who are thinking specifically of their assignment on a vehicle with a wheelchair lift, special restraints, or similar equipment. But then ask the same group, "How many of you drive a student with autism? With peanut allergies? A student who's experiencing homelessness? A student in a difficult custody situation with pickup restrictions?" Eventually almost every hand will be in the air. When you dig into it, most of the students being transported to school every day have a unique need that the district and drivers must be aware of at all times.
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The Individuals with Disabilities Act prescribes that students in special education programs who utilize school bus service as part of their Individualized Education Program should receive similar transportation as their non-disabled peers. But in reality, that's not always the case.
Children with disabilities, like cerebral palsy, are more likely than other kids to be victims of bullying. The school bus is a place where these children are especially vulnerable. School transportation workers have an important role to play in keeping kids safe every day, and that extends to protecting the vulnerable from bullying. Along with teachers, administrators and parents, bus drivers can contribute to preventing harmful bullying.