|Don't Be Asleep at the Wheel When it Comes to the School Bus:Interpreting Services and School Nurse Services|
|Written by Dr. Linda Bluth|
|Saturday, 01 July 2006 00:00|
IDEA was re-authorized in 2004 as The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004). Frequently educators await the issuance of regulations under IDEA before they modify school district policies, procedures and practices. As of April 2006, the U.S. Department of Education had not yet issued regulations for IDEA 2004. It is anticipated that regulations will be forthcoming late this summer or early fall.
However, it is the opinions of Bluth and Zimmerman that now is the time to review two related services changes under Section 602 (26)(A) of the new law that may have meaning for transporters of students with disabilities. Under the law, related services are those supportive services that must be provided in order for a child to benefit from special education and receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). IDEA 2004 adds “interpreting services” and “school nurse services” to the existing definition of related services. Here are a few questions to ask when deciding if school nurse services are necessary during transportation:
Why does the student have school nurse services on their individualized education program (IEP)?
What are the services that the nurse provides?
If a student has school nurse services as a part of their IEP during the school day does this mean that school nurse services are also required on the school bus to provide a safe ride?
It is also important to determine if the IEP school nurse services can be provided by a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or must the nurse be a registered nurse (RN). The answer may vary dependent upon the Nurse Practice Act requirements of each state. Questions about school nurse services are most appropriately discussed and answered by the IEP team consisting of knowledgeable individuals. Always include an appropriate health professional as a member of the team prior to making a commitment or decision. More than one related service provider may have invaluable information about the student’s individual needs. This is a good time to hear from a physical or occupational therapist that may provide invaluable service delivery information directly related to transportation. Do not overlook the importance of input from all team members including the parent(s). This is an important time for transportation personnel to be invited to the table. An IEP requirement for interpreting services also raises questions for transportation.
For example, can a student who is deaf or hearing impaired be safely transported to school without interpreting services if these services are provided within the school building environment? Let us review the following scenario. The student’s driver knows basic sign language and is confident that transportation can be provided safely, including an emergency evacuation. The IEP team may conclude that interpreting services during transportation is unnecessary because safety is not jeopardized. Now let’s look at a different situation. The student is provided interpreting services during the school day and a full day field trip to a museum is being planned. The field trip includes a two-hour ride in each direction with transportation provided by the school district. Without interpreting services the student will be unable to communicate with peers and benefit from the trip to a museum. In this instance it may be necessary to provide interpreting services on the school bus because of the length of the bus ride and educational need for the student’s ability to communicate with other students who are not deaf or hard of hearing. Clearly the ability to provide FAPE may be challenged unless interpreting services are provided under this set of circumstances.
It is not too early for school districts to discuss implementation of the newly listed IDEA 2004 related services of school nurse services and interpreting services during transportation. Prior to being faced with a situation requiring an IEP decision, it is best to have a plan in place to evaluate the need for the provision of these two services to receive FAPE. Remember each IEP decision is required to be a case by case decision based on the individual and unique needs of a student. Now is the time for special education and transportation directors, risk managers, school health nurses and interpreters to begin a dialogue about these services as they pertain to the school bus ride.
Dr. Bluth is the director of the Office of Quality Assurance and Monitoring within the Maryland State Department of Education’s Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services. Jean Zimmerman contributed to this report. She is the supervisor of Occupational & Physical Therapy for the School District of Palm Beach County, Fla.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 14 January 2010 17:17|