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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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8/18/2009 11:17:00 PM
PUSD responds to parents concerns by putting an aide on one Special Education bus
Paula Rhoden
The Daily Courier

In July, the Prescott Unified School District Governing Board cut transportation aides on school buses for special education as part of its budget reductions.

Director of Transportation James Cowan estimated at that time that the district would save approximately $80,000.

For some parents, the savings do not outweigh the need for an aide on the buses carrying special education students.

Luann Tardibuono believes so strongly in the importance of a transportation aide for all special education students that she had one included in her son's IEP (individual education plan).

Cowan and the district officials have responded to parent concerns by refiguring the bus routes. In addition to the IEP requiring an aide, he said Superintendent Kevin Kapp received several other requests for transportation aides.

Starting today, Cowan said, the district would run "one bus with an aide for all special education students" that may require an aide.

Cowan said district officials have identified 12 to 15 students who would ride the special education bus with an aide.

As a parent of a special needs child, Tardibuono said she wants to protect her child, other children and the bus driver from possible situations where they could get hurt.

"As parents, we need an aide on every special education bus because if a student is unable to ride the typical bus, they have a greater need and that greater need may be inherent to their disability," she said.

Parent Elizabeth Pascoe said a May 11, 2009, incident demonstrates the need for aides on special education buses. She believes a bus aide would have prevented her son Jason from being "lost" on a bus for two hours.

Jason, who was in first grade at the time, suffers from attention deficit with hyperactivity. He got on the bus in the morning, but he did not get off the bus at his school.

Pascoe said that after school officials located Jason it took another two hours to get him to school. She said her son was on the only special education bus without an aide.

Pascoe said no one notified her about what was happening until the bus driver brought him home and apologized for the incident.

Jason had knelt down between the seats and the bus driver did not see him. Pascoe said it appears the bus driver was unable to "sweep" the bus before continuing her route.

Pascoe said there appeared to be a delay in notifying the office that Jason did not get off the bus.

Pascoe said that from what she could piece together, the office staff was preparing to call her when the bus driver called and said she had Jason on the bus. By this time, he had been on the bus for two hours. School officials knew where Jason was, but Pascoe said it took another two hours for the bus driver to finish her route and get Ryan to school.

"An important point is that I still had not been notified of any of this," Pascoe said.

Cowan said if a student does not get off the bus at school, the bus driver should notice because they are required to walk their bus after each complete drop. At the back of each bus is a button the driver must push to indicate they have walked the aisles.

If a student does not get off the bus at the end of the day, parents should call the transportation department. Cowan said the dispatcher would contact the bus driver to find out if the student is still on the bus.

"What I want to see is school officials communicating with each other and with parents," Pascoe said. "They should not assume that others are doing something, such as notifying parents. They need a plan of action for an incidence like this. Also, we need the aides back on the buses."

Pascoe thinks the May incident was "just a bad day for everyone."

In the absence of bus aides, Pascoe and Tardibuono are driving their children to school.

Tardibuono said, "Aides are the life preserver, the in-case-of-emergency person. The school should prepare for the unexpected. The district is setting itself up for problems. Special education students often have medical or behavior problems. The odds are greater that something will happen."



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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, August 21, 2009
Article comment by: Response to BLEH by a PARENT

Bleh - your comments represent the same attitude found in middle-aged education majors trying to hang on to a teaching job, otherwise know as baby boomers. I am saddened by your attitude - I'd hate to see how you dress, with that 70's attitude! Pity the schools? For what? For agreeing to provide an education to ALL STUDENTS, to which they receive FEDERAL and State funding? In case you missed it, THAT'S THEIR JOB. That's what they get paid to do. Why do you have such a problem with that?

Posted: Thursday, August 20, 2009
Article comment by: bleh... give me a break!!!

Bleh, was that back when we use to hide them and chain them up in the attic? Or stick them in institutions? yepper the good old days....

Posted: Thursday, August 20, 2009
Article comment by: Just a thought

Proud Parent, Keep up the good work! by looking at some of these blogs,it makes me glad that our earth has such loving, excepting, caring, innocent people, who never would say anything to hurt anothers feelings. Alls they know is love.that would be our special needs population! They are so close to our Heavenly Father! I know the road you are on! I also have a special needs child, and have advocated on behalf of her. Proud Parent, you are your childs biggest supporter, follow your heart! Some people can not handle the challenges of the special needs population. Thank god bleh and just do it, are not parents of special needs children! I just hope they are not employed by the School! Ignorance is as ignorance does! I wonder what would happen if the parents refused to place thier children on the bus and kept them home from School a couple of days until the safety needs are met? Doesnt the School get some funds baised upon attendance? Just a thought

Posted: Thursday, August 20, 2009
Article comment by: Tired of Lawlessness with Special Needs Kids

Why are these kids leaving school early and arriving late? Do they not have the same schedule as the rest of the students? Aren't the BEST room and others like it violating the federal IDEA Act of 2004 (which is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation)? In defining the purpose of special education, IDEA 2004 clarifies Congress’ intended outcome for each child with a disability: students must be provided a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that prepares them for further education, employment and independent living.[2] Under IDEA 2004: Special education and related services should be designed to meet the unique learning needs of eligible children with disabilities, preschool through age 21. Students with disabilities should be prepared for further education, employment and independent living. This says NOTHING about missing school or missappropriation of funds! When is PUSD going to comply? Does any member of the Board know this? You got to wonder.

Posted: Thursday, August 20, 2009
Article comment by: No name provided

I think your positive parent has a complaint. Hee=Hee. I was wondering if it would be okay for typical children be bused to school late . Why don't we try that for awhile. Nope, just the little handicapped kids can stay in one room all day, come late and leave early. And we can general fund the extra income they bring to the district. Sound right Dee? I am wondering if there is a BEST room for some of the slow learners on the school board. And Bleh....if you work...are you in your BEST room? Your thoughts are stagnated.

Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Article comment by: PROUD PARENT OF HANDICAPPED BOY

THIS LETTER IS IN RESPONSE TO " BLEH"! I AM A PROUD PARENT OF A SEVERELY HANDICAPPED 9 YEAR OLD BOY, AND 4 "NORMAL" CHILDREN. I AM HAPPILY MARRIED. MY HUSBAND IS ALSO DISABLED AND UNABLE TO WORK AT THIS TIME. THERE FORE I TAKE MY DUTY AS A PARENT AND A WIFE VERY SERIOUSLY. I WORK 40 HOURS A WEEK TO KEEP A ROOF OVER MY FAMILY'S HEAD ( AS I AM CURRENTLY SOLE PROVIDER UNTIL SOCIAL SECURITY COMES IN). I FEED MY FAMILY WITH OUT FOODSTAMPS ( I MAKE 16 DOLLARS A MONTH TOO MUCH TO QUALIFY). I TAKE SERIOUS OFFENSE TO YOUR COMMENT ABOUT "RELIEVING PARENTS OF MOST DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES" I AM 100 percent HANDS ON WITH MY SON AND I HAVE NEVER REGRETTED A MOMENT OF IT. I DID NOT CHOOSE TO HAVE A HANDICAPPED SON NOR DID HE CHOOSE TO BE BORN WITH THE SEIZURES AND ALL THAT MADE HIM WHAT HE IS TODAY. BUT GOD CHOSE US FOR EACH OTHER AND FOR THAT I AM HUMBLY GRATEFUL!! SO UNTIL YOU HAVE BEEN IN MY SHOES OR THE SHOES OF ANY PARENT WITH HANDICAPPED CHILDREN YOU SERIOUSLY NEED TO KEEP YOUR OPINIONS TO YOURSELF AND SHUT UP!!!

Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Article comment by: Alice

How sad! I am the proud parent of a special needs child who rides the bus in a different school district and I am so grateful that there is an aide on board to help these kids!

Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Article comment by: Stop neglecting the special need children of Prescott

Mrs. Tardibuono is perfectly on target with her statement, thank you for all you do for the children. Special need children need an aide, supervision on the bus due to their disabilities. They need protection, they did not ask or are the way they are intentionally and its the law to provide proper care for them on the bus to and from school and during class. I find it outrageous the city, once again, won't provide what the children are legally entitled to for their safety and welfare.

Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Article comment by: Concerned about the math...

Public transportation is the special needs' student's right as a PUSD student. So, "just do it", would you rather abide by federal law or break it? As for the aides costing the district $80,000 a year, how much could they be paying these people? That's the equivalent of TWO full-time positions! No way does it cost that much! The transportation people are either cooking their books or paying themselves WAY too much.

Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Article comment by: Logic

Special needs children bring the school districts way more money, but yet that money goes every where but where it is supposed to go. These children are way too important to take any chance with, It would be better to have aids on the bus as well as in the classroom. Once something bad happens its too late. Prevention!! PSUD is suppose to be about the children. And of course what's best for the kids? Where does the money alloted for the special education go?

Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Article comment by: Just do it.

Driving their kids to school makes a lot more sense to me than revising policies and procedures, hiring more aids, checking checklists, etc. Try as hard as you can to not make errors but errors still are made. Just do the thing and drive 'em.

Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Article comment by: CONCERNED PARENT

ONE AIDE FOR ONE BUS? IS THAT CORRECT? IS THAT WHY MY HANDICAPPED SON GETS PICKED UP AT 9 A.M. WHEN SCHOOL STARTS AT 8:20? ONE AIDE, ONE HANDICAPPED BUS AND HUNDREDS OF HANDICAPPED CHILDREN IN THIS TOWN! I GUESS THAT'S BETTER THAN NOTHING.. DOES MY SON GET TARDIES EVERY MORNING AFTER ARRIVING AT SCHOOL 40 MINUTES LATE? I WILL SOON FIND OUT!!!

Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Article comment by: BLEH

Pity the schools. It used to be that they were about education. Today, they must also provide breakfast, transportation, lunch, medical care, social workers, special needs care, psychiatrists, etc. What was once a simple and efficient model has burgeoned into a an all-things-for-all-children complexity relieving parents of most duties and responsiblities.



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