Zum is working with SPED Safe to design highly specialized courses, exclusive to Zum drivers, to...

Zum is working with SPED Safe to design highly specialized courses, exclusive to Zum drivers, to ensure its drivers are qualified to provide services for students with disabilities.

Photo: Zum

Pupil transportation provider Zum has partnered with SPED Safe, which offers specialized training programs to enhance safe environments for students, especially those with disabilities. The series of Specialized Training for Transportation Professionals, which are now part of the Zum SafeGuard Driver Program, are designed by experts and leaders in special education and law enforcement to support specialized services, accommodations, and modifications for students with disabilities. 

More than seven million children across America have disabilities. For many, school transportation provides their only access to education. SPED Safe’s decades of work in the special education field has allowed them to design a curriculum that prepares Zum drivers to understand the unique nature, needs, and characteristics of each student’s disability, as well as mitigate situations as they arise, regardless of that student’s special need.

“Each and every student deserves the best possible care. Parents trust that we are caring for their child to the best of our ability, and our new partnership with SPED Safe is designed to ensure our drivers are well prepared to support students, no matter their mental, physical, emotional, and behavioral needs,” Zum CEO and founder Ritu Narayan said. “Since the early days of Zum, I recognized that the disabilities community was being disproportionately affected by lack of access to sufficient school transportation. We have made it a mission of ours to provide them with the best care possible. With the enhanced training, drivers will be even more equipped than before to look after individuals who  require extremely personalized attention, ensuring the safety of all students before, during and after the school ride.” 

A Look at the Curriculum

Zum’s partnership with SPED Safe introduces a new six module curriculum specifically designed to train drivers on how to properly care for individuals with disabilities: 

  1. Behavioral basics: Zum drivers are trained on the ABCs of behavior, behavioral science and the principles of applied behavior analysis. This introductory training helps drivers better understand how to provide more personalized care for students. 
  2. Overview & awareness: Drivers receive an overview of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and learn about special education law and confidentiality. 
  3. Structure & routine: Zum is training its drivers on the importance of structure and routine to give them the tools needed to prepare students with disabilities for any changes that may arise day-to-day. 
  4. Evidence based practices: To help aid with positive reinforcement behaviors and practices, Zum drivers are trained on the types of reinforcement strategies they can take that are consistent with how educators would care for students with disabilities in the classroom. 
  5. Response & de-escalation: Whether it be a student conflict or an isolated circumstance, Zum drivers are equipped to respond to an individual appropriately based on their needs and are taught a variety of de-escalation tactics. 
  6. Communicating & reporting: Transparency has always been a critical component of Zum’s model. Zum is further enhancing its communications by preparing drivers to report effectively to parents, school district staff and the community for any and all incidents. 

Zum is working with SPED Safe to design highly specialized courses, exclusive to Zum drivers, to ensure its drivers are qualified to provide service and care for students who require additional support. With enhanced training for driving professionals comes added confidence to parents and of course a sense of comfort and safety that will be felt by the students, a press release stated.

“Some special needs students express their frustration through actions,” Zum driver Angela Watson said. “The SPED Safe training modules of the Zum SafeGuard Driver Program are how we as bus drivers are learning about the needs of each individual student and help cater to their needs. I didn’t have the knowledge as a driver of the ABC SPED Module previously. It really helped me understand that sometimes students demonstrate communication through behavior.”

The new training modules complement the additional safety measures provided through the Zum platform. The Zum app provides ongoing visibility into route updates, a child’s location, and the driver’s profile. Families can also use the app to share changes in schedule or pickup location, preferences, and feedback, as well as speak with the Zum team directly at any time. Zum also recently introduced SafeGuard, a comprehensive program that ensures the quality and experience of each Zum driver, gives drivers the skills to deliver the best experience to each student on every ride, and provides drivers access to its modern technology platform.

“Zum's commitment and participation in the SPED Safe Transportation Series demonstrates their willingness to go above and beyond in enhancing school transportation experiences for students, families, and drivers alike," SPED Safe Co-Founder Dr. Paul Lavigne said. "The SPED Safe Transportation Series in conjunction with Zum's advanced technology and safety features will redefine transportation for all students, particularly those with disabilities." 

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