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Senator Linda Greenstein, D-Middlesex and Mercer, addresses the State Senate after being sworn in to office.

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.

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.

“There is a great level of trust when parents send their special needs children on school buses,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “Establishing a training program for school bus drivers and aides on how to appropriately and effectively interact with special needs children will further procure that trust between parents and those who are caring for their children 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.

“It is essential for our schools to recognize the growing need for proper training of bus drivers and aides who are responsible for safely transporting our young students, especially those with special needs, to learn,” said Senator Greenstein. “Gaining a deeper understanding of the challenges of working with children who have disabilities will further improve the level of care these children receive.”

Under the bill, the Commissioner of Education would also be directed to develop a student information card which includes information on the purpose of promoting proper interaction with a student with special needs. The card would be completed by the parent or guardian of the student who receives transportation services following the development of an individualized education plan (IEP). With the parent or guardian’s consent, the student information card would be provided to the school bus driver and aide assigned to the child’s route.

The bill was approved by the Senate with a vote of 32-0 and the Assembly with a vote of 77-0. It now heads to the Governor.

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