Parents are often puzzled as to how school bus transportation decisions are made. At times, there seems to be no logic as to who receives services or why some areas qualify for buses, while others don't. Though rules and regulations differ to some degree from school system to school system, most use the same basic guidelines to determine which students should receive transportation.
Regular Bus Service
To qualify for daily school bus transportation, most districts require a student to meet certain requirements. For instance, the Albuquerque Public School system requires that a student must live at least one mile from his elementary school, one and half miles from his middle school, or two miles from his high school in order to qualify for bus service. However, in other districts, such as in Loudoun County, Virginia, a student might live a block from the school but still qualify for bus services if there are no sidewalks in the area or if he would have to cross a busy street to get to his destination. Check with the school your student is or will be attending to see if he qualifies for bus service. If not, there are ways to obtain service even if you do not live in a designated service area.
Special Needs Students
In most school districts, children with special education or physical needs can qualify for bus services even if they live in a school's walking area. If your child has gone through the required child studies and has had an individualized education plan written up for her that states bus transportation is required, her school will work with the transportation department to provide her with the appropriate bus services. In some cases, depending on your student's needs, bus service may even be door to door, rather than from a bus stop.
The McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Act is a federal law that tries to keep a homeless student in his home school even if he has had to move from his primary residence and outside of that school's boundaries. School districts are required to provide bus transportation to those homeless students if it is requested by the parents, a guardian or an advocate. This law was put in place so that children who would normally have to change schools frequently due to homelessness could stay in the same school for an entire year, regardless of their physical address.
If your area is not currently serviced by a bus, but you believe that the traffic or conditions in your area are dangerous and unsafe for children to walk to school, contact your school district's transportation office for a review of the area and to be considered for a bus stop.
If, on the other hand, you live near a bus stop but are technically in a walking area, you may be able to obtain permission from the school district to have your child pick up the bus from that stop, if it is not full. However, be aware that if an overcrowding situation should arise, students who do not live within the boundaries will be the first to be cut from that bus route.