A Parent’s Question…I wanted to know if my child under the section 504 can my child can get school bus transportation to school and home. I need to know as soon as possible.
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What is a 504 Plan?
A 504 Plan is a plan of accommodations that a student may have to ‘level the playing field’ so to speak “The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student’s individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.” US Department of Education
That being said, 504 Plans are important to many students with physical disabilities as well as mental disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination by federally funded programs on the basis of physical or mental disability.
Students that are eligible for a 504 plan or 504 services are those that have a disability that substantially limits a “life activity. These life activities can be such things as breathing (severe asthma), learning, eating, walking, playing, seeing or otherwise participating in school activities are eligible for section 504 services.
Transportation and 504 Plans
So, in order for your child to have transportation provided they first must qualify for a 504. Then there are two areas that are considered. The first is nondiscrimination. A disabled student cannot be discriminated against regarding transportation. In other words, if nondisabled students are receiving bus transportation, then your disabled child must also receive transportation. If transportation is only given for certain distances from the school, the disabled student must qualify and meet the same eligibility criteria.
The second part of this is that even when transportation is not available because the student lives too close to the school, a disabled student’s physical or mental impairment may still require the district to provide transportation servicers so the disabled student can access a free and appropriate education (FAPE). “Under Section 504, a school district is required to offer transportation services in such a manner as is necessary to afford students with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation in such services and activities.” Whitman-Hanson (Ma) Regional Sch. Dist., 20 IDELR 775, 779 (OCR 1993).
A specific example of this would be a student that has severe asthma during specific times of the year (fall or spring). During those times they may not be able to walk to school without experiencing severe breathing problems. The school would need to provide transportation in this instance. Additionally, a student that broke their leg may require temporary transportation to school. This would be in a 504. The transportation in both instances would be provided by a regular school bus unless the student in in the temporary use of a wheelchair. These would be temporary accommodations and would be in a 504.
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