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basis” is another way of re-stating the standard enunciated by En- drew F. when paraphrased to fit school transportation : Te IDEA requires that transportation be reasonably calculated to enable a child to access his IEP goals in a manner appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” What was transportation’s role before Endrew F.? My analysis of an IEP team’s obligation to develop a child’s transportation program pre-Endrew F. is that it was bound to ask: (1) Does the proposal for transportation create a ride which will interfere with, have no impact on, or promote the educational benefits which a child was promised in his IEP? (2) Is the child being transported in a manner as much like that offered to a child without a disability as is appropriate for that child, given his age and disability, and its impact on transportation – in other words, given his circumstanc- es; (3) Does the manner of transportation align well with IDEA’s focus on preparation for post-K-12 living, and/or contemplate a progression in transportation method that is reasonably calculated to move the child toward increased skill and functional ability during the public school years? What does this mean. . .What is the “so-what” of the analysis? Te child must be transported to school on time and ready to


learn.


Any problems that arise at any point from pick-up to drop-off that would tend to interfere with the child’s ability to make prog- ress towards IEP goals must be addressed in ways that are reason- ably calculated to end those problems. Any special modification to the transportation method or tim-


ing available to a child with a disability (i.e., not offered to a child without a disability) must be made only to the extent it is neces- sary to alleviate the impact of that disability on transportation. Te child must be transported in the least restrictive envi-


ronment (that is, in the manner available to a child without disability) to the extent appropriate to meet his needs. Te child’s transportation goals should challenge him as he


progresses through the school years to the extent appropriate to his circumstances, and allow the child, ultimately, to access those trans- portation methods must likely to align with the likely components of his life after school. What is transportation’s role after Endrew F.? All of the above.


In addition, the Court has spelled out a best practice I’ve talked about for 20 years: Tere should be a clear and articulable basis for a school transportation professional’s input into the transpor- tation portion of the child’s IEP. In other words, it’s always been true that you might be called upon to explain the “why” of your recommendations and decisions. Te Endrew F. court has made this explicit: If a dispute reaches court, “a reviewing court may fairly expect [school] authorities to be able to offer a cogent and responsive explanation for their decisions that shows the IEP is rea- sonably calculated to enable the child to make progress appropriate in light of his circumstances.” I suggest to you that transportation “authorities” must be able to vouch for the fact that transportation decisions have been made by the IEP team in a manner that in no way hinders the child from making such progress, and, in fact supports the provision of educational benefits by getting children to school on time and ready to learn.


What are the fiscal impacts for transportation post Endrew F.? Arguably Endrew F. will have little or no negative fiscal impact, unless the transportation method, schedule, staff, or environment has, up until now, negatively impacted the child’s opportunity to achieve the educational benefit for which this child’s IEP has been uniquely tailored, or, unnecessarily segregated him from “regular” transportation. And, in fact, since “every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives,” in some cases, door-to- door pick-up may eventually give way to bus stop pick-up with the help of travel training in appropriate situations; youth involved in transition programs may, as appropriate, be taught bus skills to enable them to access public transportation to work sites rather than yellow school buses; and a student who is needlessly restricted to a small capacity bus because of behavioral issues may benefit from development of behavior intervention plan for improvement of bus behavior that allows the student to ride with his non-dis- abled peers.


What happens now? In its Opinion, the justices sent the case back to the 10th Circuit for it to apply a tougher standard – did the school district offer an educational program reasonably calcu- lated to enable Endrew to make progress appropriate in light of his circumstances? Given his relative improvement in the private school, and if the lower court agrees with the parents that the IEP offered by the school district offered little or no change from previ- ous ineffective IEPs, the parents are likely to prevail. In your world, post-Endrew F., in helping to develop IEP’s, and/


or in response to a parental challenge, you must truly consider the child’s needs and abilities on a case-by-case basis, and present a proposal that, in fact, is the product of the very analysis that, I believe, you were always required to make. If transportation just isn’t working for the child, and, despite push back from parents, and, perhaps educators, the IEP team repeatedly offers a plan for addressing transportation-related issues that do not differ mean- ingfully from previous ineffective plans, Endrew F. says, “No more. Change it.” Te Court’s discussion of the IEP process emphasizes parental involvement and the expertise of school authorities. Consider the parent’s concerns for the child, while continuing to reject transportation requests based only on parental convenience. Be well-versed in transportation options available given this child’s needs and challenges, based on his disability and its impact on the ride. One thing Endrew F. is sure to do is light a fire under parents of children with disabilities to insist on more for their children. Be able to demonstrate that you’ve provided a transportation program consistent with individualized decision-making, or, if you have not, be prepared to review that decision in the manner you should have determined it in the first place. I don’t mean to suggest in any way, shape, or form, however, that the road ahead is clear. As San Francisco attorney Gregory R. Rolen opined prior to the Court’s decision, “an all-inclusive, ever-elusive, bright-line test will remain out of reach.” But while argument will continue, no doubt, as to the amount of progress and the meaning of appropriate, the Court’s opinion continues to insist on individualized decision-making that looks at the whole child, and both where he’s been and where he’s going as impacted by his disability, and, perhaps, even more. ●


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