Risk Management: Bus Transportation Safety for Special Needs Schools
School security and safety is a number-one issue for school districts, administrators, teachers and parents across the country – right up there in importance with providing a good educational program for our children. In previous articles, we discussed security and the need for schools at every level to be increasingly vigilant and to continue to beef up their programs in light of the tragic shootings that take place on campuses in our cities and suburban and rural areas. Here we’re discussing bus safety training, specifically when it comes to transporting individuals attending special needs schools.
Transporting students with disabilities safely is a very complex procedure that requires, by federal guidelines, training for anyone providing the related service. School bus drivers and attendants need to be trained and qualified in operating equipment, federal and state laws regarding the transportation of students with disabilities, loading and unloading procedures, securing procedures for students using a wheelchair, proper use of child safety restraint systems, behavior management and emergency evacuation, among other key issues.
There is a great deal of training material available for an effective program to be created and implemented. Following are some tips to assist in bolstering special-needs transportation training that you can provide to insureds that serve special needs children:
- First, check out various websites for useful information. Use the search term, “transporting students with disabilities,” and you’ll find a plethora of information that can be incorporated in your training program. For example, Easter Seals provides a list of various publications on the subject: www.projectaction.org.
- There are also State websites that include training manuals, which can serve as a good starting point to design a program. Visit the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures website for additional information.
- Start with the basics of the federal and state legislation that governs the transportation of students with disabilities and your district policies and procedures. Providing this basic information helps drivers and attendants understand why it’s necessary to do what we do.
- Identify the characteristics of different disabilities and how they might impact the transportation for drivers and attendants.
- Manufacturers of equipment will often provide training. For example, wheelchair lift and wheelchair securement companies will offer training on their equipment.
- Training material on the use of child safety restraint systems on the school bus is available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Visit: www.nhtsa.gov/school-buses.
- Use local resources within the special-education department to train drivers and attendants in managing student behavior during the bus ride.
- Involve the local fire department and emergency responders to plan emergency evacuation drills, and help educate them on how a student’s disability might impact the way in which a child would be evacuated.
- Some other key training topics to incorporate into a training program include confidentiality, student-specific medical conditions, sensitivity training and district-specific policies.
- Ensure all training areas are documented and, when provided to drivers and attendants, that each of their files is appropriately recorded.
Well-trained drivers and attendants are essential in providing the safest transportation for our students with disabilities on the school bus. In addition to training, of course, a comprehensive insurance program needs to be put into place, including automobile/transportation insurance. Caitlin-Morgan offers an Educational Insurance Program, including one designed for special needs schools that offers a broad portfolio of coverages: General Liability, Professional Liability, Umbrella Liability, Automobile, Property, Sexual Abuse and Molestation, Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D), and Volunteer AD&D. coverage. Give us a call at 877.226.1027 to discuss our program.