The Alabama Department of Education (ALDOE) submitted an agreement to resolve a compliance review that OCR initiated focusing on whether the District was discriminating on the basis of disability by failing to ensure that students with disabilities who were transported by bus on special education routes received a shortened school day, based on the district’s transportation schedule. ALDOE’s Department of Pupil Transportation is responsible for managing a statewide comprehensive student transportation program including school bus inspection, fleet renewal, driver education programs, training and certification of school bus drivers, technical assistance, monitoring and evaluation of state and local operations, and oversight of the provisions of special needs transportation.
Transportation of a student with a disability should not be provided in a manner that results in the student having a shorter school day than his or her nondisabled peers unless there has been a determination, through a process that comports with Section 504, that a shortened school day is necessary to meet the student’s individual needs. The Title II implementing regulation is interpreted consistently with the standards set forth in the regulation implementing Section 504.
Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, ALDOE entered into a voluntary resolution agreement. Under the terms of the agreement ALDOE will develop state-wide standards for ensuring that students who are transported on special education routes are not subjected to a shortened school day, unless required in an IEP, because of a district’s transportation schedule. ALDOE will disseminate the revised transportation policies and procedures to all district administrators, transportation staff, and special education staff at all schools within each of the State’s 132 school districts. In addition, ALDOE will conduct an audit of the transportation schedules of all un-reviewed districts in the state and require immediate corrective action on the part of those found to be in violation. ALDOE will require each district within the state to develop a system to track special education bus routes for each elementary, middle and high school to ensure that students who are transported on special education routes and who are not on IEPs that require a shortened school day are provided with a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) including receiving the benefit of the State’s mandated minimum instructional time. ALDOE will conduct state-wide monitoring of the district’s tracking systems on a periodic basis. Finally, ALDOE will provide training to district administrators, transportation directors, Section 504 coordinators, and special education coordinators on the revisions of ALDOE’s transportation policies and procedures.