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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). This includes transportation to and from school, field/activity trips, athletic events, after school activities and other school system sponsored events.

  2. Transportation will be provided to all students attending public and non-public schools designated and approved by the Maryland State Department of Education 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 provided to students when the distance between their home and the home school is greater than the following:

      1. Half-day Pre-Kindergarten: 0.5 mile

      2. Full-day Kindergarten through Grade 8: 1.0 mile

      3. Grade 9 through Grade 12: 1.5 miles

    2. The bona fide residence of the parent will be used to determine eligibility for transportation services. Distances will be calculated as follows:

      1. Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and Elementary School students:

        1. Detached homes and townhouses – Measurement will be from the residence property line to the door(s) identified as the entrance to the school.

        2. Apartment complexes and condominiums – Measurement will be from the entrance to the building to the door(s) identified as the entrance to the school.

      2. Middle and High School Students:

        1. Detached homes and townhouses – Measurement will be from the residence property line to the property line of the school.

        2. Apartment complexes and condominiums – Measurement will be from the entrance to the building to the property line of the school.

      3. Other transportation service:

        1. The parent of a child in Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12, who is eligible for transportation services, may request alternate 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 exists, or if the service is necessitated by a student’s medical diagnosis.

  7. School Bus Stops

    1. Students may be expected to walk up to a half mile to and from a school bus stop.

    2. Students may be required to walk more than a half mile where it is unsafe or not feasible to establish a school bus stop within a half mile of a student’s bona fide residence.

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

    4. 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 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 – The 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. Resident Student – A student who meets any of the following criteria:

    1. A student whose parent(s) has/have established bona fide residence in Howard County.

    2. A student whose parents live apart and the parent to whom custody is awarded by the court has established bona fide residence in Howard County.

    3. A student whose parents live apart and are provided joint or shared custody by a court and one of whom has established a bona fide residence in Howard County.

    4. An emancipated student who has established an independent bona fide residence in Howard County.

    5. A student with a court-appointed guardian who has established bona fide residence in Howard County.

    6. A student whose parent(s) has/have established bona fide residence in Howard County, and who has been placed in a foster or group home in Howard County by a licensed private, county, or state child placement agency.

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

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

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

  14. Space Available School Bus Service Program – 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.

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

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

  17. 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 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  • COMAR 13A.06.07, Pupil Transportation

  • COMAR 13A.05.01

  • Section 5-203, Education Article, Annotated Code of Maryland

  • Section 7-606, Education Article, Annotated Code of Maryland

  • Section 9-100, Education Article, Annotated Code of Maryland

  • Section 9-101, Education Article, Annotated Code of Maryland

  • Section 22-228, Maryland Motor Vehicle Law Annotated

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

  • Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), 20 U.S. Code 1414

  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §794 et seq.

C. Relevant Data Sources

D. Other

VIII. History

ADOPTED: July 24, 1980

REVIEWED: July 1, 2011

MODIFIED:

REVISED:

  • June 14, 1990

  • June 21, 2005

  • June 10, 2021

EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2021

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.