State: Philly Failed to Provide Transportation to Students with Disabilities

The Pennsylvania Department of Education recently issued a ruling that during the 2014-2015 school year the School District of Philadelphia deprived students with disabilities of transportation as required under federal law.

This decision comes in response to a letter we co-signed with a coalition of local special education advocates requesting the Department investigate transportation issues. Spurred by our letter, the Pennsylvania Department of Education conducted a full investigation. Their findings were powerful. In some instances, there were no attendants on buses for students with disabilities, there were no harnesses available for some students, and some buses never arrived, while others were four hours late.

The Department concluded that the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) “did not provide transportation as a related service, as required on students’ IEPs or 504 plans. Specifically, the SDP did not provide transportation on a timely schedule during the 2014-2015 school year.” The lack of appropriate transportation not only failed to meet legal requirements, but also hindered the students’ academic success. Students were unable to attend school on time and missed substantial activities.

The Department called for corrective action, which is to include school administrators meeting with the parents of every special education student who was designated to the bus routes investigated and “develop a plan for compensatory education as a remedy to the educational loss.” This is truly a significant result for students with disabilities who rely on appropriate transportation to fully participate in their education.

Click here to read the complaint investigation report.