Groups Advise Providence it Must Provide Transportation to Special Ed Students During Bus Strike

Posted: Oct, 02, 2018

Three organizations that support the rights of students with disabilities have sent a letter to Providence school superintendent Christopher Maher, emphasizing the school district’s legal obligation to provide transportation to special education students during the city-wide school bus strike. The school district has claimed it has been unable to find alternative transportation, but will reimburse parents for the costs they incur in getting their children to school themselves.

However, the letter – signed by Rhode Island Legal Services, the R.I. Disability Law Center, and the ACLU of Rhode Island – calls that response insufficient and in violation of federal laws protecting students with disabilities. Instead, the letter states, the

responsibility to find and arrange for alternative transportation falls first and foremost on the District and not on the parents, many of whom lack the contacts and, in some instances, English language skills to make such arrangements. In addition, even if parents can themselves provide or locate alternative transportation, the costs of fronting payment and then seeking much-delayed reimbursement from the school district are prohibitive for many families of Providence students.

Among the steps the three groups have called on the school district to take in order to fulfill its legal obligations to special education students:

The letter was also sent to R.I. Department of Education Commissioner Kenneth Wagner, who was asked “to intervene as necessary to ensure that students’ rights are protected.” The groups are considering next steps if action is not taken expeditiously by the school district to address the concerns raised in the letter.

Click here for a copy of the letter.