The student in this scenario is in high school.
A district liaison called the NYSTEACHS helpline seeking assistance with a family. This family was previously in a shelter and is now temporarily residing in a hotel in the district. The district is providing transportation to and from school. The parent has reached out to the liaison requesting a different method of transportation. She feels that her child is embarrassed to get on the bus due to their situation and feels uncomfortable with being picked up at the hotel they are residing in. The parent is wondering if a car service could be provided for her child. DL has called the helpline with the following questions. Can the parent choose the method of transportation? Does the district have to provide the requested method of transportation if they are currently providing a bus to and from school? The DL is concerned that other students may also request a car service, there are no safety concerns at the moment and the student is being provided all supports including transportation.
Can the parent choose the method of transportation?
Does the district have to provide the requested method of transportation if they are currently providing a bus to and from school?
1. Can the parent choose the method of transportation?
No. The McKinney-Vento Act does not give a parent the right to choose the mode of transportation. The LEA has offered multiple solutions which the requirement that students remain in their school of origin if in their best interest (42 USC §11432(g)(3)(A)-(B)), and that schools provide transportation to and from the school of origin (42 USC §11432(g)(1)(J)(iii). In this scenario it appears that the LEA has complied with the McKinney-Vento Act’s requirement to remove barriers to enrollment and retention in school.
2. Does the district have to provide the requested method of transportation if they are currently providing a bus to and from school?
Under the McKinney-Vento Act, the means of transportation is not specified, and school districts can choose how to provide transportation, as long as the methods are safe and appropriate. The McKinney-Vento Act requires transportation to and from the school of origin for as long as it is the student’s best interest to attend that school, as well as transportation to remove barriers to attendance and participation, as well as any other transportation that is comparable to what housed students receive. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(A) and § 11432(g)(4)
The district is responsible for transportation and removing barriers for the student. From the information shared in this scenario the district has provided a bus and is providing transportation for this student. Other options such as reimbursement and public transportation bus passes were also shared with the parent as alternative options. The bottom line of the legal requirements is that the district has to provide transportation to the school of origin. The only legal reason not to provide transportation to the school of origin is if a determination is made that it is not in the child’s best interest to remain at the school of origin.
Tip sheet for navigating challenging conversations - https://www.nysteachs.org/_files/ugd/10c789_a19f2099f2034c8aa1578a553551271b.pdf
In this scenario, the DL reached out to the parent and shared possible alternatives such as reimbursement for gas or a bus pass for public transportation. Additionally, the DL also shared with the parent that an alternative pick-up location could be arranged in order to support the student. If the student feels embarrassed to get on the bus outside of the hotel there could be arrangements made to change the pick-up and drop-off location. Since the student is in high school, they may feel embarrassed to share the reasoning behind why the family resides in a hotel. Offering alternatives allows the student and family to feel supported. Overall, the goal is for the student to continue attending school and provide some stability.