Policies


The District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) and the Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) set policies and procedures related to student transportation eligibility and service.


It is the role of Niagara Student Transportation Services (NSTS) to apply the policies of the school boards to determine eligibility and to plan, administer and manage safe, efficient and effective student transportation services.


DSBN and NCDSB harmonized student transportation eligibility and service policies and procedures are included below:



Harmonized Policy


District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) Policy J-1 Transportation Eligibility and Service, May 2009


Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) Student Transportation Policy 500.2, April 2009


In accordance with the Education Act, school boards may provide home-to-school or school-to-school transportation to their students who are within the Board’s jurisdiction or control. In all cases (other than those situations specified in the Education Act), transportation is a privilege, not a right, and it may be withdrawn at any time.



Eligibility


1

 

Transportation may be provided for elementary and secondary school students when the walking distance from the student's residence to their home school is equal to or greater than the distance listed below:

 

    GRADE LEVEL                                                   KILOMETRES

     Junior Kindergarten - Senior Kindergarten                    .80

     Grades 1- 8                                                               1.60

     Grades 9 – 12                                                            2.50

 

2

 

All distances referenced shall be the shortest walking route, measured from the point at which the laneway or driveway of the student’s residence joins the roadway to the nearest roadway or pathway/sidewalk entrance to the school property.

3

 

The distance from a student’s residence to the bus pickup or discharge location shall not exceed the transportation eligibility distances.

4

 

Where a student encounters safety hazards on his/her walk to school, consideration may be given to providing appropriate transportation for the student.

5

 

Transportation may be provided to students with exceptional needs, with the approval from the authorized department.

6

 

Transportation may be provided to students, who attend a school other than their home school for approved program attendance, with the approval from the authorized department.

7

 

Every effort will be made to keep student transportation time from home to school at a reasonable level. Whenever possible and practical, the transportation time is not expected to exceed one hour.


The Director of Education, in consultation with the Niagara Student Transportation Services Consortium, will issue Administrative Guidelines in conjunction with this policy.



Harmonized Procedure


District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) Administrative Procedure AP 2-10 Pupil Transportation dated December 2009


Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) Student Transportation Policy 500.2 Administrative Guidelines dated December 2009


1.

 

TRANSPORTATION OF STUDENTS WITH EXCEPTIONAL NEEDS

 

In situations where a student does not qualify for transportation under the eligibility criteria, it is the parent’s/guardian’s responsibility to ensure that the student gets to and from school safely.


Transportation for students with exceptional needs will be provided in accordance with the following criteria:


Students with Special Needs

    

a. 

Niagara Catholic District School Board’s (NCDSB) Student Support Services’ Department and District school Board of Niagara’s (DSBN) School Support Services’ Department in consultation with the school/site and Niagara Student Transportation Services (NSTS), will determine if a student is eligible for transportation due to special needs and define the specific transportation requirements to maintain the safety of all students.

    

b. 

Students enrolled in a Special Education class or program that is not available at the student’s home school, may be provided with transportation.

    

c. 

Students with medical disabilities may be provided with transportation only when the disability is extremely debilitating and of a long-term nature. In all cases, a certificate from a medical practitioner, stipulating the specific medical reasons for providing transportation to a particular student, must be provided to NSTS for consideration prior to transportation being approved.


Kindergarten Students

    

a. 

Transportation for kindergarten students will be provided on the regular morning and afternoon vehicles.

    

b. 

Where full day kindergarten classes are not offered, transportation may be provided at mid-day. The school Principal in consultation with NSTS, will determine student attendance in morning or afternoon classes to group students eligible for transportation together to achieve maximum transportation efficiencies.

    

c. 

When a student is eligible for transportation, parents/guardians are responsible for the safety of their children at the designated stop. Parents/guardian must be present to assist their child(ren) onto the vehicle and to meet the vehicle to receive their children.


Other Exceptional Needs

    

a. 

Hazards are assessed by NSTS annually according to set criteria, historical designations, consideration of parental responsibilities and with careful attention to the consistent application of policy across Niagara.

    

b. 

All exceptions must be made by application to NSTS and approved by the Superintendent. If an additional cost is projected, the Superintendent of Business may be required to approve the request.


 

2.

 

TRANSPORTATION OF STUDENTS FOR PROGRAM ATTENDANCE

 

Students attending a school other than their home schools are not eligible for transportation unless they must travel and attend another school/site for a Board approved program.

For the Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB), school-to-school transportation may be provided for the following approved educational programs:

       a. Eucharist and Liturgical Programs
       b. Cyberquest Studio Programs
       c. Spiritual Centre Outdoor Educational Programs
       d. Alternative Co-operative Educational Programs
       e. Apprenticeship Preparation Courses.

For the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN), school to school or home to school transportation may be provided for the following approved educational programs:

       a. Extended French
       b. English as a Second Language
       c. Design and Technology
       d. Choices and Change
       e. Specialized School to Work
       f. Program Area Magnet



3.

 

TRANSPORTATION FOR SUMMER SCHOOL

 

Transportation may be provided for students who attend secondary school summer courses, as approved by the appropriate Superintendent and the Superintendent of Business. Summer school buses cover a large geographical area and parents/guardians will need to arrange getting their children to and from these centralized bus stops.



4.

 

TRANSPORTATION FOR FIELD TRIPS

 

Transportation may be provided for students who are authorized to participate in field trips organized by the school, in accordance with the related approved procedures.



5.

 

TRANSPORTATION OF STUDENT ON LATE BUSES

 

Transportation may be provided in addition to the regular after school transportation for students who participate in extra curricular activities and reside in rural areas that are distant from the school. The late buses cover a large geographical area and parents/guardians will need to arrange getting their children home from centralized bus stops.



6.

 

RESPONSIBILITIES FOR THE SAFE TRANSPORTATION OF STUDENTS

 

To ensure that safety is maintained at all time, constant attention must be paid to the various factors which can impact on the safety and well being of students related to transportation. To accomplish this, each party needs to accept the responsibilities outlined below.


It is the responsibility of the Parent/Guardian:

    

a. 

To explain and reinforce the expected behaviour of their children who are eligible to use student transportation services.

    

b. 

To ensure the safety of your children to and from the designated pick-up/drop off location, provide adequate supervision at the pick-up/drop-off location, and that the student is waiting at least five (5) minutes before the scheduled arrival time of the transportation and is visible to the driver.

    

c. 

To notify the school of any pick-up or drop-off location that differs from the home address and any health related conditions of their child that may potentially require immediate medical attention (e.g. anaphylaxis).

    

d. 

To be aware of the fact that student misbehaviour on school vehicles may result in suspension or loss of transportation privileges.


It is the responsibility of the Student:

    

a. 

To avoid any behaviour which may disturb the driver or interfere with the safe operation of the vehicle including exercising care, caution, good manners and consideration for others.

    

b. 

To obey promptly the instructions of the driver, school patroller and Principals.

    

c. 

To refrain from throwing articles inside the vehicle or out the window, and keep all parts of the body inside the vehicle at all times.

    

d. 

To refrain from smoking, eating, using alcoholic beverages and/or illegal substances while in a school vehicle.

    

e. 

To remain seated at all times.

    

c. 

To be aware of the fact that misbehaviour on school vehicles may result in suspension or loss of transportation privileges.


It is the responsibility of the Bus Driver:

    

a. 

To adhere to applicable laws, regulations, agreements and student transportation policies and administrative procedures and to exercise due care and precaution at all times.

    

b. 

To report immediately to the transportation operator any incident or accident involving a school vehicle where students are on or around the school vehicle.

    

c. 

To be courteous, kind but firm and above reproach at all times.

    

d. 

Maintain control of the students on the vehicle at all times. When necessary, provide written reports within 24 hours to the Principal naming individuals involved and the details of their behaviour and any specific action taken to correct the behaviour while on route.

    

e. 

To ensure that all students have left the vehicle before considering the route is complete.

    

c. 

To only carry students authorized by NSTS, maintain consistent pick-up and drop-off locations and times and refrain from making changes without consent from NSTS.


It is the responsibility of the Transportation Operators:

    

a. 

To maintain each vehicle in accordance with the legislative requirements and the Agreement, including keeping the vehicle in a clean and sanitary condition.

    

b. 

To report immediately to the Principal and NSTS any incident or accident involving a school vehicle where students are on or around the vehicle, and follow this up with a written accident report as soon as possible.

    

c. 

To support schools and NSTS in regards to safety initiatives including: ‘First Ride’ programs, bus evacuation drills, bus patroller programs, use of video monitors on buses, etc.

    

d. 

To provide drivers with regular driver training and safety workshops and to make sure that they are following applicable laws, regulations, legislation, agreements and the student transportation policies and administrative procedures.

    

e. 

To provide drivers with a list of passengers who have health related conditions which potentially may require immediate medical attention (e.g. anaphylaxis).

    

c. 

While operating for NSTS, the operator provide service according to contract agreements and shall not carry passengers other than students assigned or authorized by NSTS or make route changes, including bus stop locations and times, without the written permission of NSTS.


It is the responsibility of the Principal:

    

a. 

To provide adequate supervision for the loading and unloading of student transportation vehicles at the school and be available should a problem arise during transportation times.

    

b. 

To respond to student transportation incidents and accidents as necessary, including notifying parents of the students involved.

    

c. 

To investigate thoroughly all reported misbehaviour on school vehicles and to issue discipline and, if necessary, withdraw or suspend transportation privileges.

    

d. 

To inform parents personally by telephone, and confirm in writing, the details of the disciplinary problem and the action taken.

    

e. 

To encourage and support the use of student transportation safety education programs provided by NSTS, Transportation Operators or other agencies.

    

c. 

To keep student data up to date in their student database, including pick-up and drop-off locations that differ from the student’s home address, and notify NSTS of any student passengers who have health related conditions, which potentially may require immediate medical attention (e.g. anaphylaxis).


It is the responsibility of the NSTS:

    

a. 

To plan student transportation programs in accordance with policies, administrative procedures/guidelines, the consortium agreement, student transportation legislation, best practices and the student information downloaded from the schools.

    

b. 

To set up transportation provisions for students within a reasonable amount of time, and with due consideration for students with exceptional needs and/or exception to policy.

    

c. 

To ensure the safety of students, pick-up and drop-off locations must be consistent five (5) days per week, and week to week, and the transportation provision must be reflected on the route copy.

    

d. 

To communicate with schools, Communication Departments and the appropriate Superintendent immediately following an incident or accident. Review incident and accident reports with operators and to follow-up with schools to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

    

e. 

To support the safety and behaviour management initiatives of operators and schools in order to prevent issues on school vehicles, and to help resolve specific concerns.

    

c. 

To notify transportation operators of any student passengers who have health related conditions that may require immediate medical attention (e.g. anaphylaxis).



7.

 

OPERATION OF SCHOOL VEHICLES

 

Transportation services may be provided to eligible students using contracted school buses, taxis or through services provided by a Public Transit Commission. All transportation agreements for home to school and school to school will be held between the Operator and NSTS.

Where possible, bus stops should be located where the driver has a clear view of the road in both directions for at least 150 metres (500 feet). Where possible, bus stops should not be located on a steep grade, brow of a hill, or on a blind curve. Unless a vehicle is standing in a bus loading zone or bus stop, students shall not be discharged on a road or highway until all traffic has come to a complete stop.

At no time shall the number of passengers in any vehicle exceed the capacity for which the vehicle has been licensed by the Ministry of Transportation. Students are not permitted to stand on school buses as a result of a lack of seating spaces (other than for a few start-up days when passenger loads are being assessed and adjusted).

Where it is possible and practical, there shall be co-operation and co-ordination of services with other school boards or private schools in the transportation of elementary and secondary school students.



8.

 

EQUIPMENT AND OTHER ITEMS

 

Where equipment or other items are transported, it is important to ensure that the centre aisle be kept clear in case of an emergency and a quick exit is required. In the interest of student safety, only certain equipment is permitted on school vehicles, as follows:

    

1. 

Only musical equipment in cases shall be transported if they can be stored on the students’ lap or under the seat.

    

2. 

Ice skates shall have the blades covered and be tied together or carried in a sports bag. They shall be kept on the floor under the student’s seat. Sports equipment such as skis, poles and skateboards shall not be allowed on the bus.

    

3. 

Animals, birds, firearms, explosives, water pistols and any items that may interfere with the safe operation of the bus are not allowed.

    

4. 

Program related items shall be transported if special arrangements have been made in advance between the Principal, NSTS and the Transportation Operator.

In case of a dispute, the final decision as to what shall or shall not be transported rests with NSTS.



9.

 

HANDLING OF CONCERNS

 

Every effort shall be made to investigate concerns while recognizing the need for the efficient, effective and safe transportation of students in compliance with policies and administrative procedures.

Concerns by parents are to be processed in accordance with the following procedures:

    

1. 

Concerns should be directed initially to the school Principal.

    

2. 

If the concerns are not resolved at the school level, the parent shall be directed to submit their concerns in writing to NSTS.

    

3. 

If the concerns are still not resolved, the parent shall be directed to contact the appropriate Superintendent for further consideration.

Concerns shall be addressed in a timely manner. The Principal, NSTS and/or the Superintendent will acknowledge the receipt of the concern within 24-hours to the person with whom the concern originated. The investigation and resolution process may take longer than 24 hours depending on the nature of the concern.