Training in the IEP for School Bus Drivers / Attendants

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Are school bus drivers and bus aides who transport special needs children required to have training? Are they required to know the disability and be able to accommodate that disability?

The need for training and support applies to all school personnel, including bus drivers and school bus aides.

School bus drivers are expected to handle children with different needs related to:

  • cognitive concerns
  • behavioral issues
  • physical impairment
  • medical conditions

A school bus driver may need training in behavior management techniques for children with autism and emotional disturbances.

The bus driver or aide may also need training from physical and occupational therapists about how to position a medically fragile child.

The school nurse could train transportation personnel about how to transport a child with health impairments.

NHTSA Training Guidelines for Transportation Personnel

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a training module for Transportation of Children with Special Needs.

The module advises bus drivers and attendants to “know your students and what they need.”


Have transportation personnel who work with a student at the IEP meeting to learn more about a child’s transportation needs.

The school bus driver/attendant should know the characteristics of the disability and the equipment the student needs and uses.

Check each student’s ITP (Individual Transportation Plan) for special instructions or precautions.

The IEP should provide the necessary specificity so the driver, school, parent and student know what services to expect.

NHTSA also has a training module on Emergency Situations when transporting children with special needs.

Parents should:

  • Check your state regulations and any school policies about transporting children with special needs
  • Discuss your child’s transportation safety needs with the IEP Team
  • Document in writing any transportation issues and concerns

If your child has transportation needs, ask the school bus driver to join the IEP team.

Any support and training for teachers and other school personnel (i.e., bus drivers and aides) must be written in your child’s IEP.

More Resources

Support and Training for School Personnel in IDEA 2004

Restraints and Safety Devices on the School Bus

When Transportation in the IEP is Not Provided

Do All Children with Disabilities Have a Right to Transportation as a Related Service?

School Says Transportation Will Be Provided But Only One Way

More Q and A on Transportation

Database Questions: Transportation

  1. Is there a regulation on where my child is picked up by the school bus? He is autistic and goes to a charter school for autism. I thought they had to be picked up in front of their home?

  2. Currently, a just turned 5 years old Deaf child is being transported to and from the county Program for the Deaf via “ACE” – an Uber-like service. The driver is different every day and there is no aide. The drivers don’t know ASL – so have no way to communicate with this child. Is this legal?? Any suggestions for how to approach the IEP team about this?

  3. If the district provides a 1:1 per the IEP, especially in those cases of extreme behavior, should those services continue on to school bus, which is supposedly an extension of the school day?

    • It should certainly be considered, & the situation monitored regardless of whether a bus aide is provided.

  4. Training for bus personnel on special ed. buses is not included in my state’s regulations along with other issues such as air conditioning. When I worked for one of the state schools, however, training and drills occurred quarterly and buses without air conditioning did not run. One local school district lost a student, because the bus personnel drove him on to school when he was having trouble instead of a fire station that was a few blocks away. When one of our state school children coded on a bus, personnel knew to get her to a fire station and it saved her life.

  5. Is there a time limit on how long a special needs child can be on a bus? My child is picked up 70 minutes prior to the start of school. School is 5 miles away. I understand that other children are on the bus longer. Is this okay?

    • Marlene, the federal special ed law and regulations do not address time on a bus. The federal law and regs express a preference for children attending their neighborhood schools, close to their home. Suggest you check your state regulations. If no help in the regs, contact your Parent Info and Training Center.

      I’m curious. Why does it take 70 minutes to transport children to a school 5 miles away? That adds up to a daily round trip of 140 minutes – 2 hours, 20 minutes a day on a bus. It’s probably not illegal but it must be a physically and emotionally rough ride for the kids who have to endure that bus ride.

      • Schools put as many children as they can on a special needs bus and if those children live far apart, the route is longer. One parent I know of requested that her child be one of the last to be picked up and the first to be dropped off because they lived close to the school. Before she requested that, her child was on the bus for 45 minutes.

    • You are willing to have your special needs child on a bus for 70 minutes instead of driving him or her yourself for 5 minutes? I don’t understand why you wouldn’t take your child yourself. Having a child with special needs should not preclude you from engaging in basic parenting responsibilities such as getting your child to school or be reason for you to loose your common sense.

          • Claudia is right you don’t know her situation. Maybe she has to be at work at a certain time. That’s why schools have bus services.

      • Just so you know, I am a special needs parent. My son has Autism. I am also a nurse. I work 7AM-7PM three days a week. Therefore, I do have to rely on a bus to get my child to and from school from a babysitters — NOT because I don’t want to take him to school. There are no “before” and “after” programs offered for most children with special needs — us parents do not have the privilege of dropping them off early, or picking them up late. So YES, it’s important for transportation departments to be advocates for special needs children, just as they are “normal” children. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. You need to get a life. Instead of spending all your time reading threads that you obviously don’t care about, and bashing parents who are just trying to get help and answers!

  6. My son has autism and has a hard time with changes. During an evacuation drill, he would not leave the bus because he was afraid. The bus driver suggested that I drive him to school the 1 days when they do drills. I advocated for practice evacuating from front & rear of bus including emergency responders. I plan on adding this to IEP

  7. Absolutely excellent article. I have never heard of an ITP (Individual Transportation Plan); this information has usually put into the accommodations section. Would this apply to outsourced bus services as well as district school personnel?

  8. 1181 member were always trained,we had safety classes 4 times a year.Bloomberg took away the jobs of members who were well qualified and gave the jobs to non union for cheap the school bus industry is new workers with no qualified workers,shame at the expense of children.

  9. My child (John) was having problems on the school bus and I had to talk to the school and CSE about it. Now the bus driver hates to see me come to the bus stop both in the morning and afternoon. I’m sure the bus driver, a young lady, doesn’t have any of the following training to help these children. I am a school bus driver and in this area we are lucky to find good drivers. We live in Western New York.

  10. Our drivers are contracted out as well. Since they’re not technically school employees, our CST and BOE do not share IEP info. Even with the special needs bus – which only drives 504 & IEP students. They say “not a school employee, they don’t get IEP info.” The same holds true for subs – they don’t get IEP info and have no clue as to which students have accommodations, etc.

    • Hi Denise, I am an aide for a bus company that is contracted out by the school. All drivers, sub drivers and aides have access to the child’s IEP. I wonder if this varies depending on schools and bus companies. It is so important for all who is responsible to know the child’s needs. My brother was a special needs child growing up and I can remember my Mom’s worries and concerns whenever he had to get on a school bus.

    • Not sharing the IEP plan for a child to access transportation with a bus company leaves a school wide open for liability in the case that the child becomes injured as a result. I have had to amend at least three IEPs in the middle of the year in consideration of students who could no longer take the stairs of a standard bus modified for wheelchairs. This need would sometimes become apparent after a seizure that affected the child’s mobility. We certainly let the bus staff know of changes made to the transportaion accommodations.

    • I am not a lawyer, but I think that bus personnel become agents of the school and therefore, hired by the school once a company is contracted. The administration at my school had considerable control over the actions of the bus personnel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Please help us defeat spam. Thank you. *