skip to main content

HCPSS / POLICIES

Policy 5200 – Student Transportation

The purpose of this policy is to establish a process by which transportation services for students are provided.

Policy Document

I. Policy Value Statement

The Board of Education is committed to providing transportation services to students in a safe and efficient manner. With the intent of protecting the general well-being of students, the Board of Education recognizes the need to establish parameters for which transportation services are provided.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish a process by which transportation services for students are provided.

III. Standards

  1. The provisions of this policy apply to all eligible students, public and non-public, for whom school bus transportation is provided by the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS).

  2. Transportation will be provided to all eligible students attending public and non-public schools designated and approved by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and/or the HCPSS subject to the availability of funding.

  3. Transportation services provided to a student with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a Section 504 plan will be provided in accordance with that plan, as well as federal, state, and local laws/regulations.

  4. Students who attend parochial schools will receive transportation services as provided in the Howard County Code and HCPSS policies and procedures. This service will be provided only on a space-available basis along existing school bus routes designed to serve public schools. Parochial schools that receive state aid will not receive transportation services.

  5. When considering the need for and/or implementing school bus service, the staff will consider:

    1. Reasonable levels of safety.

    2. Program efficiency.

    3. Economy of operations.

    4. Equity of service.

    5. IEP or Section 504 plan requirements.

    6. Homeless children and youth.

      Providing a reasonable level of safety will be the major staff consideration.

  6. Eligibility for transportation

    1. Transportation services will be available to students when the measured distance between their bona fide residence and the home school is greater than the following, except as otherwise specified within Policy 5200, Implementation Procedures. Utilizing transportation software, measurements will begin at the property boundary or the school/school campus from the closest adjacent suitable pathway and end at the property line of the bona fide residence:

      1. Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 5: 1.0 mile

      2. Grade 6 through Grade 8: 1.5 miles

      3. Grade 9 through Grade 12: 2.0 miles

    2. Other transportation service:

      1. The parent of a child in Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12, who is eligible for transportation services, may request Alternate School Bus Service.

      2. The parent of a child in Pre-Kindergarten through grade 8, who is not eligible for transportation service, may request Space Available Bus Service to or from a child care provider.

      3. Temporary transportation service may be provided when a suitable pathway or suitable crossing does not exist, or if the service is necessitated by a student’s medical diagnosis.

    3. Every student deemed eligible must submit a request for assignment before they will be provided with transportation services. The following criteria will apply to this requirement:

      1. Service will be provided to eligible students after their request for assignment is approved and processed by the Student Transportation Office.

      2. Student assignments will be monitored for regular use. Those assignments not actively utilized may be reviewed for reconsideration.

      3. A new request for transportation services will be required for each school year.

      4. Students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a Section 504 plan with transportation as a related service are exempt from the requirements in this section.

  7. School Bus Stops

    1. Routes will be established in such a way that the walking distance from a student’s bona fide residence to an established school bus stop is no greater than the eligibility for transportation distance as outlined in Section III.F.1.

    2. Students are expected to board and exit the bus from the same bus stop location that is the closest suitable pathway to their residence unless otherwise directed or permitted to do so by a principal, assistant principal, or transportation area manager.

    3. School bus stops for students with needs of accommodation or assistance will be determined consistent with the needs identified in the IEP and/or Section 504 Plan.

  8. Walking Route and School Bus Stop Review Appeals

    1. Requests for re-evaluation of a walking route or school bus stop are to be directed to the Student Transportation Office.

    2. Appeals of the decisions made by the staff of the Student Transportation Office are to be directed, in writing, to the Student Walking Route and School Bus Stop Review Committee.

IV. Responsibilities

  1. The Superintendent/designee will ensure the safe design of all school bus routes that serve public and non-public schools.

  2. Parents will ensure the safety and conduct of their children from the time they leave home until they board the school bus or enter school property and from the time they leave the school bus or exit school property at the end of the day.

  3. The Student Transportation Office will identify transported areas, non-transported areas, and school bus routes.

  4. Students will adhere to the HCPSS Student Code of Conduct.

V. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop procedures for the implementation of this policy.

VI. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Accommodation – A strategy, service, or facility modification that allows a student to access academic, nonacademic, and extracurricular activities comparable to peers without disabilities.

  2. Adequate Sight Distance – A distance required along a roadway to enable a motorist traveling at or near the design speed of the roadway to see and stop for a student to safely cross the street or safely pass a student walking along roadway shoulder used as a walking route to and from school or a school bus stop. This determination may be made in conjunction with a county or state traffic engineer.

  3. Alternate School Bus Service – A program for students in grades Pre-K through 12 who are eligible for transportation services and need to ride two different buses on a regular basis due to individual parental needs.

  4. Bona Fide Residence – A person’s principal residence maintained in good faith. It does not include a temporary residence or a superficial residence established for the purpose of attendance in the HCPSS. Evaluation of a person’s bona fide residence is a factual one made on an individual basis.

  5. Child Care Provider – An individual or center chosen by a parent to care for or supervise their child(ren) in their absence.

  6. Homeless Student – A student who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, whether or not the temporary housing is located in Howard County, as defined in Policy 9300 Homeless Children and Youth.

  7. Individualized Education Program (IEP) – A written description of the special education and related services for a student with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised by the student’s IEP team.

  8. Non-Transported Area – The geographical area within each school attendance area, as defined by the Board of Education, within which HCPSS school bus transportation services are not provided.

  9. Parent – Any one of the following, recognized as the adult(s) legally responsible for the student:

    1. Biological Parent – A natural parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    2. Adoptive Parent – A person who has legally adopted the student and whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    3. Custodian – A person or agency appointed by the court as the legal custodian of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    4. Guardian – A person who has been placed by the court in charge of the affairs of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    5. Caregiver – An adult resident of Howard County who exercises care, custody or control over the student, but who is neither the biological parent nor legal guardian, as long as the person satisfies the requirements of the Education Article, §7-101 (c) (Informal Kinship Care) or has been issued a U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Verification of Release form entering into a custodial arrangement with the federal government.

    6. Foster Parent – An adult approved to care for a child who has been placed in their home by a state agency or a licensed child placement agency as provided by the Family Law Article, §5-507.

  10. School Bus Routes – A set of scheduled school bus stops and planned roadways traveled by a school bus as developed by the Student Transportation Office.

  11. School Bus Stop – A designated location where students board and are discharged from a school bus.

  12. Section 504 Plan – A plan to provide accommodation for an individual student to comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

  13. Space Available School Bus Service – A program for students in grades Pre-K through 8 whose residence is located outside the service area. Student participation in this program is predicated on the need for child care services on a daily basis and meeting all eligibility requirements. Bus service will be provided only if school bus seating space is available.

  14. Student Transportation Office – The HCPSS office that is responsible for coordinating transportation services.

  15. Student Walking Route – The path a student walks to and from home to school.

  16. Student Walking Route and School Bus Stop Review Committee – Committee composed of external representatives and one (1) or more citizens of Howard County approved by the Superintendent/designee to review walking route and school bus stop appeals. Persons with a pending student walking route and school bus stop appeal will be temporarily prohibited from participating in related activities of the Student Walking Route and School Bus Stop Review Committee.

  17. Suitable Crossings

    1. Where adequate sight distance, line striping, and crosswalk signing exists when warranted.

    2. Where pupils are not required to walk across railroads, bridges, tunnels, or overpasses unless they have adequate pedestrian walkways.

    3. Where adequate safety provisions can be made for crossing roadways.

    4. Where pupils are not required to cross certain roadways unless a grade separated crossing is available.

  18. Suitable Pathways – Road shoulder, walkway, right-of-way, sidewalk or other surface which students can walk without being required to step on the portion of the road used by vehicles except:

    1. Residential streets in a community with little or no transient traffic.

    2. Roads/streets with speed limits of 30 miles per hour or less.

  19. Transported Area – The geographical area within each school attendance area, as defined by the Board of Education, within which HCPSS school bus transportation services are provided.

VII. References

  • Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. §1411

  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §791 et seq

  • McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act – 42 U.S.C. §11301 et. seq.

  • Md. Ann. Code, Education Article, § 5-203

  • Md. Ann. Code, Education Article, § 7-606

  • Md. Ann. Code, Education Article, § 9-100

  • Md. Ann. Code, Education Article, § 9-101

  • Md. Ann. Code, Transportation, § 22-228

  • COMAR 13A.06.07, Pupil Transportation

  • COMAR 13A.05.01

  • Louisa E. Baker v. Carroll County Board of Education, Maryland State Board of Education, Opinion No. 99-25

C. Relevant Data Sources

D. Other

  • HCPSS Student Code of Conduct

VIII. History

ADOPTED: July 24, 1980

REVIEWED: July 1, 2011

MODIFIED: May 26, 2022

REVISED:

  • June 14, 1990

  • June 21, 2005

  • June 10, 2021

EFFECTIVE: May 26, 2022

Policy History Key

  • Adopted-Original date the Board took action to approve a policy
  • Reviewed-The date the status of a policy was assessed by the Superintendent’s Standing Policy Group
  • Modified-The date the Board took action to alter a policy that based on the recommendation of the Superintendent/designee did not require a comprehensive examination
  • Revised-The date the Board took action on a that policy based on the recommendation of the Superintendent/designee needed a comprehensive examination
  • Effective-The date a policy is implemented throughout the HCPSS, typically July 1 following Board action.