As we enter another school year the questions always arise as to what the legal requirements are to provide transportation and the pick up points for pupils.
Ohio law requires boards of education to provide transportation for pupils in kindergarten through eighth grade who live more than two miles from their assigned school. Transportation may be provided for high school pupils but it is not mandatory. Community and non-public pupils are generally entitled to transportation on the same basis. Exceptions to this will be covered later in this communication.
The operation of school buses in the transportation of pupils to and from school is strictly governed by statute. School buses are subject to safety requirements of both the State Department of Education and the Department of Highway Safety. Likewise, school bus drivers have very specific requirements that must be updated on an annual basis
One area that always generates many questions is the designation of school bus stops. Ohio law requires that the Superintendent or designee determine the location of all school bus stops which shall be approved annually by the district’s Board of Education as an internal part of the school bus routing plans within ten days following the opening day of school. Designated school bus stops may be up to one-half mile from a student residence. However, as a general rule, our stops are less than four-tenths of a mile from the pupil’s residence. Requests for bus stop changes that are within this guideline may not be considered for adjustment. There is no requirement that curbs, sidewalks and street lights be present. School bus stop locations shall provide for maximum safety of pupils giving consideration to distance from the residence, traffic volume, physical characteristics, visibility of motorists and weather conditions. Should weather become a factor at the time a student is boarding or alighting, the district may temporarily adjust a bus stop location. It is the parent or guardian’s responsibility to get the pupil to and from the designated stop and supervise them until the school bus arrives. The district’s responsibility for the pupils begins once they are picked up and ends when they reach the designated point of safety at the stop.
There are some additional items that make the transportation of non-public pupils different. The items covered so far are the same for both public and non-public pupils. The State Board of Education prescribes minimum standards for any non-public school transportation. The travel time test ride on a bus during the time the bus would generally transport shall not exceed 30 minutes. This is based on the school the pupil would attend if they attend public schools. If the time meets the 30 minute rule then they are eligible for transportation or a payment in lieu of transportation. If the school meets the 30 minute test then there are other criteria that will go into the final decision of whether transportation is practical or impractical.
After considering one or more of the following, the Board of Education may determine that it is impractical to transport a pupil who is eligible based on the 30 minute test:
1. Time and distance required to provide the transportation
2. The number of pupils eligible to be transported
3. The cost of providing transportation in terms of equipment, maintenance, personnel and administration
4. Whether similar or equivalent service is provided to other pupils eligible for transportation
5. Whether and to what extent the additional service unavoidably disrupts current transportation schedules
6. Whether other reimbursable types of transportation are available
If transportation is provided, the district will attempt to provide transportation for non-eligible pupils based on available space from a designated stop of eligible pupils. Stops will not be created for non-eligible pupils.
There are rights of appeal if there is a disagreement with the district’s decision to declare a route impractical. Due to a number of variables, it is recommended that a member of our transportation management team be contacted. They will be happy to assist and clarify any process. They can be reached by calling 740-657-4080.