As attention turns to the warmer months ahead, transportation departments around the country are preparing school buses to keep children cool. Yet, for several states, this is a choice, especially for buses that transport special-needs students.
According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), transportation departments have to provide the necessary services for students with disabilities, including temperature controls on school buses.
This does not extend to all buses, though, much to disappointment of other students, drivers and attendants sweating out the hot days. The criteria must be details in a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).
In states like Florida, where average temperatures can hover around 82 degrees with high humidity at the start and end of the school year, keeping special-needs students cool is a necessity. Yet, it is not mandated.
“In Florida, air conditioning is an option for all school buses, not a requirement,” said Kevin Snowden, director of school transportation for the Florida Department of Education.
This does not mean that school districts across the Sunshine State forego the installation of A/C units beyond the special-needs buses. It just means that “each district is different,” Snowden added.
The same goes for the Lone Star State, where State Director Rebecca Rocha said specs for school buses in Texas catalogue air conditioning as noncompulsory. The specs are from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“A/C units are not a mandatory spec item on regular and special needs buses,” Rocha added.
Again, this does not mean Texas school districts don’t provide the necessary services to students and students with disabilities. It just means that districts are burdened with too many costly regulations.
Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted from the March 2017 issue of School Transportation News magazine.