MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Issues involving special-needs students were among workshop topics at the National Association for Pupil Transportation conference last week.
Pete Meslin, transportation director at Newport-Mesa Unified School District in Costa Mesa, Calif., was one of the speakers who addressed this topic.
During his presentation, “Special-Ed Data: How to Find It and How to Use It,” he discussed how it is important for transportation officials to first decide what types of data they want by breaking them into categories: data they must have, data they should have and data that “would be nice to have.”
“Our job is to convince our administrators that good data will help us better serve the students we transport,” Meslin said.
Meslin then outlined the types of special-education data that can be useful to a transportation administrator — for example, information on students themselves and the programs they are involved in, as well as a layout of the district’s classroom locations by type.
He also offered methods to secure the data from the district’s special-education department, with approaches ranging from simply asking and saying “please” to emphasizing that the student’s safety depends on having the data in question. If faced with objections, Meslin suggested presenting pupil transportation as a service that is on the same level as, for instance, speech therapy and physical therapy and assuring those individuals that the information will remain confidential.
"You have to convince your administrators that you’ll treat the special-ed data differently than regular-ed data," Meslin explained, emphasizing that confidentiality is key.
In addition to offering these tips, Meslin presented a template of the special-ed transportation request form used at his district to illustrate the kinds of data he requires parents or guardians to disclose about their child, and he stressed the importance of consistently reviewing the data received to ensure that the transportation department has the most useful, up-to-date information possible.