TRENTON, N.J. — A bill that was passed last month requires the development of a training program for New Jersey school bus drivers and aides on interacting with special-needs students.

The legislation, which was signed into law on Nov. 9, requires the state education agency to develop the training program. It will cover appropriate behavior management, effective communication, the use and operation of adaptive equipment, and understanding behavior that may be related to specific disabilities.

"Children with special needs require specialized attention and care,” said Assemblyman Daniel Benson, a sponsor of the bill. “Bus drivers and aides should be aware of behaviors associated with certain disabilities, and know how to effectively deal with them so to avoid any confusion and accidental mistreatment of these students."

Once the training program is made available, school districts and school bus contractors will be required to administer the training program to all their school bus drivers and aides.

Also, the new law requires the New Jersey Department of Education to develop a student information card to be made available to school bus drivers and aides. The student information card must be completed by the parent or guardian of a student with an individualized education plan.

Upon receiving consent from a student's parent or guardian, the school district will provide the completed student information card to the school bus driver and aide assigned to the student's bus route.

"By tailoring the transportation protocol to a student's specific needs, we can make sure they are receiving the individualized attention they need from those entrusted with their care," said Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, another sponsor of the legislation. "From a policy perspective, this is a wise move."

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