Texas School District Required to Provide Bus Monitors with Training Specific to Student’s Behaviors

 A state hearing officer ruled in Corpus Christi Independent School District, 57 IDELR 297 (Tex. SEA 2011) that the school district failed to provide appropriate personnel support so that a  student with an emotional disturbance and ADHD could be safely transported on the bus. The student had been suspended from the bus more than ten times during the 2010-2011 school year for aggressive behavior, failure to remain seated, and using profanity. The school district’s solution was to propose that the student’s grandparents provide his transportation and offered to pay their mileage. The grandparents rejected that proposal and requested a due process hearing to resolve a number of issues, including the school district’s failure to provide appropriately trained personnel on the bus.

In his decision, the hearing officer noted that transportation is a related service under the IDEA. Additionally, under the IDEA, supplementary aids and services are those aids, services, and supports that are provided in a variety of settings to enable a child with a disability to be  integrated with students without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate. Here, the bus monitor who supervised children on the student’s school bus had only been provided general training on behavior management. The hearing officer determined that this student’s disruptive behaviors were significant and frequent and that the bus monitor had been ineffective in ensuring the safe transportation of the student and his peers. Thus, the hearing officer ordered the school district to provide a bus monitor with more specific training and skills to deal with the student’s unique behavioral issues.

OSEP Letter Reinforces that Services are Based on Student’s Individual Needs

As we know, special education services for children with disabilities are provided to meet the individual needs of the particular student with a disability. Still, it is good to see the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), confirm that point to a state director of special education in Letter to Koscielniak, 112 LRP 9475 (OSEP Dec. 19, 2011). In her letter the state director asked whether: (1) a school district could cease providing speech-language services to a student who was no longer making progress; and (2) whether the district could rely on the American Speech Hearing Association Guidelines (ASHA) to make the decision to terminate services.

In its response OSEP made clear that school districts may not rely solely on a universally applicable standard (such as the ASHA guidelines) to end a student’s related services. Moreover, the decision to end services cannot be the unilateral choice of the student’s service provider. The determination must be reached through the IEP process and involve the input of the parents and school officials. If the IEP team determines that a child needs to continue to receive speech therapy (or other related services) that IEP team must continue to include that service on the child’s IEP, despite the ASHA (or other universally applicable standard) guidelines.

So, as always in the special education process, services are provided or not provided based on the student’s individual needs as determined by the IEP team.

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