Special Needs Transportation

Need-to-know needs

Posted on October 1, 2004
How much medical information do bus drivers at your operation have access to regarding special-needs passengers? How much do they need to know? Members of the SBF forums weigh in on the issue.

Obtaining info can be tricky
Due to HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] regulations, information we need to safely transport our students is more difficult to obtain. Everything has to be kept confidential.

Some of us found out during the New York Association for Pupil Transportation conference this summer that your best source of information may be the child’s parents. They can give you the information you need about their child’s health conditions. They certainly have the right to do this.

Whenever information is shared with a driver, it has to remain strictly confidential, or there is always that ever-present threat of someone suing.

School Bus Driver
Gloversville (N.Y.) Enlarged School District

Knowledge can prevent mishaps
Our students turn in emergency contact/medical info cards either to their teacher or bus driver. Important info is supposed to be passed on to the driver but seldom is.

The Green Bay School District is working to improve this, but I make it a point to find out. When I started driving special-needs passengers, I didn’t know anything about the kids and was concerned when a boy had a seizure. It was mild, although he was unconscious. It lasted less than a minute.

I had some medical background, so I was not freaked out. From then on, I’ve checked things out—except for the first day of this school year. As I picked up my students, some of them handed me a card as they boarded, which I saved to read later. After unloading my wheelchair student at the high school, I noticed that one student was missing. She went into the school while I was on my ramp but should have waited for the next drop at the middle school.

I notified base and the teachers inside. She was new to me, and I couldn’t even describe her. They were trying to page her, but it was too noisy. As I waited in my bus hoping they would find her, I read her card. She was hearing impaired—she was not going to hear any page!

I notified base and the teachers again. I was told to go on, as it was getting pretty late by then. So I did, and they were calling her parents to come and find her at the wrong school. She did not ride the next day; her parents were too upset. But she was back at the end of the week. I reassured her parents, so it all worked out.

In all the confusion and hubbub of the first day, thank God I noticed she was gone and took the proper action, or I may have been fired. That would be especially bad for me, because there’s nothing else I would ever want to do.

The thought of driving my bus is what gets me out of bed at 4:45 a.m. with a smile on my face —even when it’s 30 below zero here in Green Bay!

Special-Needs Driver
Lamers Bus Lines
Green Bay, Wis.

Make contact with parents
We aren’t given any background on the children, but we are expected to know how to deal with their medical or behavioral problems.

During my dry runs, I make contact with parents, and while I’m checking the info I’m given, such as phone number, age, car seat, I ask if their child has medical or behavioral problems I need to know of.

Many parents are surprised to learn we don’t have that info. When put in the context that I will be better prepared to safely transport their child, they are most willing to share.

School Bus Driver
Batavia, N.Y.

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