Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: Transportation/Dismissal

  1. #1
    anniemc2000 is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Transportation/Dismissal

    We are having an issue with our school district in that my kids on IEPs are at 2 different schools based on their needs. My 9 year old is at our neighborhood school, my 4 year old is at another school about 3 miles from home. This year they get out of school at roughly the same time, which makes picking them up impossible. My 4 year old thus takes the preschool Sped bus to his sister's school. The bus pulls up in front of the school and I meet him and my daughter at about the same time. This always worked in the past. New principal this year decides to change dismissal to the back of the school. I can't be at the back of the school and the front to meet the bus at the same time. We asked for an exception for 9 year old to be dismissed from front of school directly to me. Principal refuses. Says it is "safer" for 9 year old to be dismissed out back with no parent present and that she should then wait behind the school for me. Alone. As my daughter has impulse control issues, among other issues, I am not at all comfortable with her being dismissed into a crowd of 450 kids or waiting unsupervised for me while I get her brother off the bus. Even knowing this, first time, brand new principal won't budge. My questions are:
    Is the school responsible for dismissing a child with special needs safely to a parent? It seems to me to be a huge liability for the school to leave a vulnerable child alone outside the school building. Also, can a dismissal plan be written into an IEP? Lastly, should I consider asking for a least restrictive placement for my preschooler, which would be in his home school and would solve the transportation/supervision dilemma. Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Transportation/Dismissal - Answer

    Dear anniemc2000,

    Thank you for letting me look at your challenging question.

    I think the essence of your questions (and your problem) is the school principal’s decision not to allow your 9-year old daughter to be dismissed from the front of her school instead of from the back of the school.

    The principal says dismissing your daughter at the front of the school instead of the back of the school creates a safety problem.

    I presume the principal did not say what the safety problem is - of course not.

    Here, the principal used a word that has many connotations – safety. The principal used that word to control you.

    Consider this exchange between Alice and Humpty Dumpty from Alice in Wonderland

    "'I don't know what you mean by "glory,"' Alice said.

    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously.'Of course you don't- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock- down argument for you!"'

    'But 'glory' doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected.

    'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less.'

    'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

    'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master- that's all.' (Lewis Carroll, 1832-98, Through the Looking-Glass, Ch. VI.)

    These days, who could possibly object to something that will make us safe? We all want to be safe.

    The principle used the word safety when talking to you in the same way an adult will sometimes invoke a mythical creature called the boogieman to frighten children into compliant behavior. The world today is widely perceived as unsafe, unsecure, and uncertain.

    Unless the principal can show you a reasoned and factual basis for the decision based on “safety,” then it might be said the principal’s decision is what lawyers call an arbitrary and capricious decision.

    So why wouldn’t we just take it for granted that the principal’s safety side-step is genuine?

    Lesson: Never take for granted that you know the meaning of a vague or unspecified meaning of a stand alone word such as safety. Ask the principal specifically how the child pick up point rule assures the safety of anyone.

    You wouldn’t, for example, go to an IEP meeting and accept the school district’s saying “we want what’s best for your daughter” without asking specifically what the school means by what the school thinks is “what’s best” for your daughter.

    The way you see it, dismissing both of your children at the same location is not only reasonable, it is also the right thing to do. The school principal, though, already thinks the school is doing the right thing AND your request is not reasonable.

    There are several ways to approach solving this dilemma.

    First: You can try again to persuade the principal to change the pick up location such that both of your children are dismissed at the same location at the school. To be persuasive, you will have to be specific about why the principal should make that change. Saying that you have concerns is not specific enough to address the problem. Just saying you have concerns is just as vague as the principal saying the word safety; neither of these words as used here are specific. You must define what concerns you.

    I am concerned that A will cause B

    Another way of saying that is; I am concerned about A because (and describe why you are concerned).

    Let’s pretend.

    Pretend that you are the principal and you are faced with the same request from a parent;

    Why can’t my child be dismissed from the front of the school instead of the back of the school?

    Let’s pretend that you must give that parent the most valid reason you can think of.

    What you would say to that parent is –

    The school is obligated to make the school’s programs and services available (accessible) to all children who have a disability regardless of the disability.

    The school must provide access to disabled student to the same extent nondisabled students have access to the school’s programs and services.

    You would say the school bus and the dismissal routine are a part of the school’s programs and services. All of the students (disabled and not disabled) at the school are dismissed at the back of the school.

    Therefore, you would tell that parent their daughter has the same access to the school bus and dismissal routine to the same extent that nondisabled students have.

    You would also say:

    1. That the school dismissal rule complies with the school’s obligation under the IDEA, Section 504 and the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA),

    2. The dismissal rule is not discriminatory, and

    3. Is in place to for the safety of all of the students.

    Now, take off your pretend self and know that this is the point where effective parent advocacy begins.

    First, the pick up point is not a least restrictive environment question. Least restrictive environment is a placement question. The pick up point isn’t an educational placement. Instead, it is a part of the school’s programs and services.

    So if it isn’t a placement question, what choices do you have as your children’s advocate to meet this challenge?

    First, and probably an unproductive method, is to try persuading the principle to make an exception to the pick up rule for your daughter.

    Second, your daughter has an IEP. Because of that, the procedural safeguards have a whole menu of things you can use. The quickest one to use is asking for an IEP meeting to revise the accommodations section of her IEP.

    You have a reason for a revision because the principal declared that the school’s rule (or policy) is for safety reasons. You could argue that if it is for safety reasons, then an adjustment in her IEP accommodations are also for safety reasons: the safety of your daughter needs to be assured so she can go from the back of the school to the front of the school.

    You could try to amend the related services section of the IEP by arguing that an aide could meet your daughter at the back pick up point, accompany her as she walks to the front of the school, and waits with her until you pick her up. I said you could try.

    Related services are defined by the federal regulations at 34 C.F.R. 300.34.

    Related services.

    (a) General. Related services means transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes speech-language pathology and audiology services, interpreting services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, including therapeutic recreation, early identification and assessment of disabilities in children, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, and medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes. Related services also include school health services and school nurse services, social work services in schools, and parent counseling and training.

    As you can see, transportation is a related service. It follows, then, that assigning an aide to accompany your daughter from the back of the school to the front of the school could be considered a part of the transportation as a related service for your daughter.

    My guess, though, is that argument would be a stretch. But who knows unless you try it?

    If the IEP team decides your daughter should be picked up at the front of the school as an accommodation, then it does not matter what the principal says.

    Getting an accommodation through the IEP team is achievable if and only if you can prove to the IEP team that the accommodation is necessary. You cannot give the impression that the accommodation is for your personal convenience to pick up your children.

    Along with changing pick up place as an accommodation, your could tell the IEP team members that as an accommodation for your daughter and her safety, the school must provide an aide to escort your daughter from the back pick up point to the front of the school. The aide would have to stay with her until you arrive to pick up both of your children at the front of the school. If a disabled student needed an aide on the school bus, the school would have to provide one

    A second thing you can do is ask for mediation. A lot of parents have the mistaken notion that they can get mediation only if they file a complaint to initiate a due process hearing. Check your state special education regulations under the procedural safeguards.

    A third thing you could do is claim the no variance stance on the front of the school pick up point is discriminatory. This would be a hard thing to prove because a discrimination claim has a set formula for what constitutes a discriminatory act. But if you could make that claim, you could file a complaint with OCR. Granted, you wouldn’t get a quick answer from OCR, but filing a valid complaint might make the school more open to changing its mind about accommodating your daughter’s need for a different pick up point.

    My suspicion is that the principal may be creating a power play here for reasons other than the undefined safety reason. It is a possibility. Schools often say it cannot do thus and such because of precedent or its against policy. Of course that is mostly a way to discourage parents from asking for something or doing something.

    Whatever you do, don’t allow the principal - or anyone else with the school - make you angry. The people who can make you angry are the ones who can control you. Do everything you can to remain as cool as the center seed of a cucumber as you negotiate with the school about this problem.

    As I mentioned earlier in this answer, this is where effective parent advocacy begins. Effective advocacy is not a tug-of-war. It is finding ways to persuade the school district to do the right thing when you are right about what your child needs. Never give up.

    Don’t jump to conclusions and think through the possible solutions to any problem you have with the IEP team. Some things you think of may be off the wall. So what? A lot of good things come from off the wall ideas.

    Someone must have surely thought the whole notion of special education was an off the wall idea before Congress created special education.

    I hope this helps.


  3. #3
    anniemc2000 is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
    Join Date
    Jan 2006


    Thank you so much. You made such great points. Here's what happened:

    Principal refused to allow my daughter to exit the school's front door where my son (who also has an IEP) was arriving by bus. We have a brand new first year Special Ed director and a brand new first year superintendent. I put in a call to the Sped Director, explaining my challenge, that I wasn't comfortable with my 9 year old (or my 5 year old regular ed daughter, who also needed to be dismissed out the back) being dismissed without adult supervision. I alerted the Sped Director that I have documentation from my daughter's physician that she should not be dismissed from school without adult supervision.

    Sped Director called back with a great plan. She had talked to the principal and my daughter would come out the "kindergarten" door in the front of the school. Only problem is that "kindergarten" door is no longer at the front. It is at the back of the school withe the other 452 students. I call back and explain that my issue with daughters being dismissed out of my sight remains. She could trip, fall, be abducted, wander off, etc. I suggested a paraprofessional accompany my daughter to the front, or that perhaps my son's placement needed to be changed to his home school as I would not be able to meet the bus. I said that until resolved, I would have to pick my son up 30 minutes early from his placement in order to get my 4th child and then the two who would be dismissed out the back.

    Principal calls 30 minutes before dismissal. She has a brand new plan. Para (my daughter's favorite person in the entire world!) will walk my daughters out inside the school to the front door, where I will meet them and my son coming off the bus. We met in person yesterday with principal and Sped Director to make sure all was working. Problem solved. Did it have to take a meeting with Special Eduction Director for common
    sense to prevail? Probably not. I think as you did that the principal had an issue with control. She made a new rule/policy and doggone it she was going to enforce it no matter what. Thankfully, the Sped Director seemed lovely and has common sense.

    Thank you again Brice, for helping me think this through and advocate for my children!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Default Transportation, Power Plays and Voltaire

    Dear anniemc2000.

    Thank you for your kind remarks. I'm very proud of you for getting your power struggle with the school resolved.

    Don’t’ you just love it when a plan comes together?

    You mentioned that you think the real problem was one of the principal’s power play. This isn’t unique with your school principal. It is happening more and more routinely in schools around the country.

    We began seeing deliberate and sophisticated power control several years ago with the advent of “facilitated” IEP meetings. The power thing really ramped up shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the burden of proof is on the parents when the parent asks for a due process hearing. That happened in 2005 and the name of that case is Schaffer v Weast. You can read about that case on Wrightslaw at

    After Schaffer, school districts began daring parents to ask for due process hearings.

    Your experience and advocacy demonstrates that the power differential can be leveled by using a little common sense (as your new special education director used). Of course you helped that person use common sense by using a little common sense advocacy. By common sense, I mean learning the various ways of applying the right kind and the appropriate amount of pressure under the circumstances. In your situation, you applied pressure (a form of negotiation) with the least amount of pressure necessary.

    Voltaire wrote, “common sense is not so common.” Keep learning about being a good advocate, go teach another parent what you learn, and help make common sense more common. (Voltaire – - (1694 – 1778))

    Thanks again for your kind remarks.


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts