FAIRHOPE, Ala. — A special-needs student here was able to realize a lifelong wish on Wednesday: to ride on a school bus.
Anthony Pollard, the transportation supervisor for Baldwin County Public Schools, arranged for Wyatt, a Fairhope Elementary School student, to have a “special” ride on a bus around Fairhope, the district said in a news release. Wyatt’s mother, Farrah Combs, wanted to make sure that Wyatt, who is on the autism spectrum, would be OK riding the bus each day to school. With Combs’s approval, Wyatt will soon regularly ride a special-needs bus to school.
Combs told Wyatt that when he turned 10, he could ride the bus. While on the “special” ride, Wyatt exclaimed that he must be 10 today, because he is riding the bus.
Students in Wyatt’s class cheered as he rode the bus.
The event not only honored Wyatt, the district said, but countless others in the Baldwin County Public Schools system who ride or have ridden special-needs buses. The district includes 46 special-needs routes, featuring a para-educator on each special-needs bus who is trained above and beyond state requirements to assist students with physical and mental challenges. All special-needs buses are air-conditioned and are equipped with seat belts, wheelchair ramps, and other items specifically designed for the students, according to the district.
Wyatt’s bus driver, Grace Tyler, told the district that she is excited to transport Wyatt and James, his best friend, on the bus. James and Wyatt will be among nine others who will regularly ride to school on the special-needs bus.
Grace and other district bus drivers take part in specialized training and remain in constant contact with parents and guardians, the district said. Additionally, para-educators as well as drivers complete evacuation plans and receive proper training when dealing with school bus emergencies.