Pennsylvania school districts will be reimbursed for providing transportation to charter and other nonpublic school students, regardless of whether in-person or online teaching methods are being implemented.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education had previously stated that transportation would not be required for nonpublic students during the school closures caused by the pandemic. However, a press release issued on Sept. 1 announced a change to that policy.
The updated Pennsylvania DOE guidance states in Section 1726-A of the School Code that school districts are required to provide transportation to a charter school for resident students enrolled in that charter school.
It also states in Section 1361 that a school district that provides transportation to its resident public school students must make “identical provision” for the free transportation of resident students attending nonpublic schools in accordance with the geographic parameters set forth in the law.
Any such transportation is required to be provided during regular school hours on such dates and periods that the nonprofit nonpublic school is in regular session, according to the school calendar officially adopted by the nonpublic school, the DOE states.
Related: Pennsylvania School Bus Association Reminds Drivers: “School is Open” Related: Pennsylvania Law Seeks Continued Pay for Student Transporters During COVID-19 Closures Related: Transportation Remains a Barrier to Choice, Charter School Access Related: COVID-19 Adds Challenges to Task of Transporting the Most Vulnerable Passengers
State Sen. Andy Dinniman, who is also a minority chair for the Senate Education Committee, stated he was happy with the update in a recent press release.
“I’m glad that PDE updated its stance and made a decision that is in line with the school code. For parents and families of all students, including those attending in-person classes in charter and nonpublic schools, the uncertainty of the pandemic coupled with the start of the school year is stressful enough. I hope this provides some relief and assurance during an unprecedented situation,” Dinniman said.
Special education students will also be provided with transportation to in-person classes, and Dinniman said he hopes that students who are attending technical or vocational programs will have the same access.