HomeOperationsWebinar Provides Background, Tips on Implementing School Bus Travel Training

Webinar Provides Background, Tips on Implementing School Bus Travel Training

More than 130 student transporters joined a consultant and a team of special education experts Feb. 28 for a live webinar on utilizing the school bus as a travel training tool.

Ted Finlayson-Schueler, president of transportation consultant Safety Rules! in Syracuse, N.Y., led a discussion titled, “Learning Life Skills on the School Bus: identification and teaching of generalizable transportation skills,” which included tips and lessons learned by four special education representatives of Clarkstown Central School District outside of New York City. Finlayson-Schueler said travel training is but one more reason why communication is vital between transportation and special education.

“Perhaps the transportation folks could invite their special education folks to sit down and watch the webinar together,” Finlayson-Schueler told STN. “I’m not suggesting that it is the first thing that they need to do together, but it provides an example of the way they can work together for kids.”

Finlayson-Schueler, who last year wrote a white paper on the subject that was supported by a graduate fellowship from Easter Seals Project Action, began the 75-minute presentation with an overview of basic travel training concepts. He also put travel training into the context of how it relates to the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) as well as how implementing these ideals for students with disabilities can and should carry over to their adult lives.

“(Travel training) is not only important when you’re in the school bus, but also outside of school,” said David Carlson, chair of Clarkstown CSD’s Special Education Committee.

He said support and modifications of travel training using the school bus, part of the New York State Individualized Education Plan (IEP), translate to everyday life and transition students with special needs from school to adult life.

“You need to make sure that goals are in place (for each student) with the ultimate goal of independence,” Carlson added.

For this reason, Finlayson-Schueler said IDEA’s goal is to expand travel training programs as a bridge to later compliance with ADA. He discussed the difference between IDEA and its mandates for school-specific travel and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which exempts school buses and instead focuses on access to community transit services for persons with disabilities. However, he added that ADA is also positively reinforced by using short-term school bus travel training to teach students how to become self-sufficient later in life by being prepared to take full advantage of long-term community transit services.

Finlayson-Schueler was then joined by special education teacher and board-certified behavior analyst Barbara McCabe, school psychologist Carla Zambri and behavior intervention specialist and special education teacher Jodi Caliciotti. The women discussed how Clarkstown CSD incorporates school bus travel training into its special education curriculum and offered several suggestions on how to focus on individual students skills and to achieve buy-in from students as well as their parents.

For example, McCabe, Zambri and Calciotti said the adherence to school bus rules are one of the most important aspects of travel training, especially for developmentally disabled students. They encouraged attendees to avoid saying “No” or “Don’t” when correcting student behavior on the bus; instead, to explain to the student exactly what they should do.

“Look for the little accomplishments,” added Finlayson-Schueler. “Half right is better than not right at all. And get creative.”

“It’s nice to know our district is on the path to educating our special needs (students) and others on public transportation and being able to accept change,” commented one attendee from the Syracuse, N.Y., area after the live event concluded. “It’s not the students that have the hard time, it’s the parents.”

Editor’s note — The webinar, as with all those produced by School Transportation News, is free of charge and is archived for 24/7 viewing.

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