COVID-19   Law    Advocacy    Topics A-Z     Training    Wrights' Blog   Wrightslaw Store    Yellow Pages for Kids 

 Home > Ask the Advocate > Advocating for Field Trip Bus Transportation: How to State Your Case by Pat Howey

The Special Ed Advocate newsletter
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:

Training Programs

Mar. 20-21 CA - Private

Apr. 11 - Denver, CO

June 5-8 - San Antonio, TX

Sept. 24 - MD via ZOOM

Full Schedule


Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Cool Tools
Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
Newsletter Archives
Short Course Series
Success Stories

Law Library

Fed Court Complaints
IDEA 2004
McKinney-Vento Homeless
Section 504


American Indian
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
College/Continuing Ed
Due Process
Early Intervention
  (Part C)

Episodic, such as
   Allergies, Asthma,
   Diabetes, Epilepsy, etc

Future Planning
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
LRE / Inclusion
Military / DOD
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Related Services
Research Based

Response to Intervention

Restraints / Seclusion
   and Abuse

School Report Cards
Section 504
Teachers & Principals
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
  Disability Groups
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites


Print this page

Advocating for Field Trip Bus Transportation: How to State Your Case
by Pat Howey
, Advocate

My daughter uses a wheelchair.  I received an email from her school asking if I would be willing to transport her on a field trip. The district can not provide a special needs bus that morning and get her there on time for the field trip.  My daughter is the only one affected because she's on wheels.

How do I state my case?

Does the school have to get her there at the same time the other students will arrive so she doesn't miss out on any of the special activities? 

Or do I have to settle for her arriving after the fun has already begun.  Arriving late will cause her miss a cruise down the river.

Write a Letter to the Stranger

1. Review the "Letter to the Stranger" on Wrightslaw.

2. Read Chapter 24 in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy.

3. If you are able, plan on transporting your daughter for this field trip.

4. Write a "letter to a stranger" documenting the details you have described in your email to me. Thank the school in the first paragraph for giving your child the opportunity to go on the field trip with her peers, even though the school will not be able to transport her with her peers.
5. State that you will plan on transporting your daughter on this field trip and that you will provide a statement so that you can be reimbursed for your actual travel expenses and your time.

  • set an actual hourly rate for yourself
  • use the IRS mileage reimbursement rate
  • give the school an estimate of what it will cost for you to transport your child

Note: If you must take time off from work to do this, be sure to put that information in your letter, asking the school to reimburse you for any amount of work time that you will lose from this arrangement.
6.  Ask if the school will be accepting responsibility for insurance for you and your child, since you will be transporting your child for the convenience of the school.
7.  Thank the school again for its interest in your child's education. State that you hope this will not occur again, because you realize that it is a burden for the school to incur additional expense for you to transport your child to field trips.

8. Indicate that should the school find it is able to transport your child, to please let you know as soon as possible. Otherwise, you will plan on being the "school bus" for your child. 
9. If you end up having to transport your child, be sure to send an "information" letter to your federal Office for Civil Rights and state Department of Education, along with a cover letter (that you will also include for the school).

State that you:

  • are simply informing each respective agency that you believe the school's failure to act discriminates against your child  
  • wanted to cooperate
  • transported your child this one time so that she does not miss out on the field trip

Indicate that you are not filing a complaint this time, but that you would appreciate any technical assistance each agency could provide your school. Ask for confirmation of your understanding that it is the school's responsibility to provide transportation for your child, just as it does for non-disabled children.
10. Be pleasant. Be cooperative. Be matter of fact. If possible, handwrite the letter instead of typing it. Be a "mom," not a "professional." Be sure to follow the "letter to the stranger" format.
If you do have to transport your child, look at it as a unique opportunity to spend some quality time with your child. Observe how the children interact with each other and, more importantly how the children interact with your child. Watch how the teacher interacts with everyone. This may very well be one of the highlights of your child's public schooling -- and a great memory for you!
I feel certain that when the school receives your "note," it will reevaluate its position on this, if only because the powers that be will suddenly realize that the school may be responsible for any accident you may have, cause, or in which you are a victim.

To Top

Meet Pat Howey

Pat HoweyPatricia Howey has supported families of children with disabilities since 1985. She has a specific learning disability and became involved in special education when her youngest child entered kindergarten. Pat has children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who have a variety of disabilities and she has used her experience to advocate for better special education services for several of them.

Pat is a charter member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), serving on its Board of Directors from 2000 through 2003. She has been a Commissioner on the Tippecanoe (County) Human Relations Committee, a graduate of Leadership Lafayette and Partners in Policymaking, and a member of the Wrightslaw Speakers Bureau. She has been on the faculty of the College of William and Mary Law School’s Institute of Special Education Advocacy since its inception in 2011.

Pat has an A.S. and a B.A. in Paralegal Studies from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, where she graduated magna cum laude. She is an Indiana Registered Paralegal and an affiliate member of the Indiana Bar and the American Bar Associations.

Pat began her advocacy career as a volunteer for the Task Force on Education for the Handicapped (now InSource), Indiana’s Parent Training and Information Center. In 1990, she opened her advocacy practice and served families throughout Indiana by representing them at IEP meetings, mediation, and due process hearings.

In 2017, Pat closed her advocacy practice and began working on a contract basis as a special education paralegal. Attorneys in Indiana, Texas, and California contracted with her to review documents, spot issues, draft due process complaints, prepare for hearings, and assist at hearings. In January 2019, she became an employee of the Connell Michael Kerr law firm, owned by Erin Connell, Catherine Michael, and Sonja Kerr. Her duties have now expanded to assisting with federal court cases.

"Changing the World -- One Child at at Time.

Contact Information

Patricia L. Howey, B.A., IRP
POB 117
West Point, Indiana 47992-0117

Created: 11/30/16
Revised: 07/15/19

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon The Special Ed Advocate: It's Free!