TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein that would require the development of a training program for school bus drivers and aides on interacting with students with special needs was approved today by the Senate Education Committee.
The bill, S-274, would require the Commissioner of Education to develop a training program that includes appropriate behavior management, effective communication, the use and operation of adaptive equipment, and understanding behavior that may be related to specific disabilities.
“Caring for our most vulnerable children requires special attention and adequate training, and those who are responsible for transporting them safely to school every day share in that responsibility,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “This is a necessary step in the right direction to ensure that children with special needs are receiving the appropriate level of care and that their needs are properly met by those who are directly involved in their care on a daily basis.”
Once the training program is made available, boards of education and school bus contractors that provide student transportation services under contract with boards of education would be required to administer the training program to all school bus drivers and school bus aides that they employ. They would also be required to retain a copy of the certification for each driver or aide for the duration of his or her employment and forward a copy to the Department of Education.
“Every child is unique and every situation is different, but it is imperative for our schools to recognize the growing need for proper training of the dedicated bus drivers and aides who work with our young students,” said Senator Greenstein. “The purpose of this training is to equip these individuals with a deeper understanding of the challenges of working with children who have disabilities and with the tools necessary to effectively interact with them.”
The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee with a vote of 5-0 and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.