A Complicated Process The main reasons districts do not claim reimbursement are the time

Ensuring students get on the right bus and get off at the right stop since 2013

needed and complexity that is involved in compiling the necessary docu- mentation, as well as the fear of audits, Anderson’s research found. Ridership-tracking technology that provides automated documentation helps address both of these concerns. However, experts cautioned that even with tracking products, the process is rarely simple. Transporting a Medicaid-eligible child with special needs to school does not in and of itself qualify for reimbursement. During the school day, the child must also receive mandated health care or specialized services—like counseling or speech therapy—that are prescribed in their IEP. Those ser- vices must also be provided by a professional who is specifically certified by Medicaid to provide those services. “The largest misconception is if we transported students [with special needs] that day, we’re going to be reimbursed,” said Anderson. “But that’s not the case. You might have 42 days of rides but only 15 days of reimbursement.” That means the ridership records alone won’t lead to reimbursement. Those documents need to be correlated with a proof of services that stu- dents received. “Going to school itself isn’t eligible. You need to be transported to a place

Smallville Independent School District *011068*


with Medicaid-eligible therapy—counseling, physical therapy, speech ther- apy, etc.,” explained Alexandra Robinson, a New York-based consultant and past-president of the National Association for Pupil Transportation. “There has to be documentation they went to school on that day, received that ther- apy, checked and double-checked to match with the IEP. You can’t claim for therapy if it’s not on the IEP. You can’t claim for something that’s not taking place during school hours.” This also requires considerable coordination between districts and par-

Student Tracking/ Authorization

GPS Fleet Tracking

Pre/Post-Trip Inspection

Automated Reports


See Us At TSD Booth 208 36 School Transportation News • MARCH 2020

ents, Robinson added. Parents must first provide permission for the district to claim reimbursement on their child’s behalf. Transportation departments typically turn their records over to other

Continued on page 40 ➥

Keeping Track What about making sure the students actually walk off the school bus?

That’s what Zeeland Public Schools in Michigan wanted to know. To address that issue, Zeeland now uses a new system from IEEE Sensing

that scans the bus with motion sensors to check if children are still onboard after the driver exits, noted Transportation Director Dave Meeuwsen. The system is called the Life Detection Assistance System, or LiDAS. If the sensors pick up anything—including a wild animal that may have snuck in—the driver receives a text. If they don’t promptly investigate and resolve the alert, administrators are automatically contacted. The district has the system installed on one of its 10 dedicated special needs buses and is in the process of deploying it more widely across its 60-bus fleet. “We’ve gone from putting a piece of paper in the back window [saying the bus is empty] so the mechanic makes sure all of the papers are in windows before he goes home, to buttons in the back of the bus you have to push, to this. It’s a big advancement,” said Meeuwsen, who is also interim executive director of the Michigan Association of Pupil Transportation. “It takes the hu- man factor out of it. If a kid is really hiding under a seat, you might miss [him/her], but sensors in the ceiling will find them.” The sensor will be demonstrated on March 21 at the TSD Conference in

Frisco, Texas.

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