District 200 school board discussions on adopting a policy related to installing recording devices on special education buses has expanded to whether the school should provide alternative transportation to students suspended from riding the bus.

Last year, Oak Park and River Forest High School installed cameras on its special education buses. The state school code mandates that if a school places cameras on buses, a school board policy is required.

The proposed policy was up for a second reading Tuesday morning by the Dist. 200 policy committee. But as with its first reading last month, there was more talk about suspended students than the video taping them.

Sharon Patchak-Layman again took issue with an existing policy concerning how students are suspended from riding buses. Special education students are transported to school by bus, but when a student is suspended from riding the bus and the parent is unable to provide alternative transportation, once that student misses school, he/she receives a 10-day suspension. The school could, but is not required to, provide alternative transportation for the student, said Jason Edgecombe, Dist. 200 assistant superintendent for human resources.

Edgecombe said it was likely the school has done so in the past but couldn’t site a specific instance. He added that it is done on a case-by-case basis, but it’s ultimately up to the student’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) team to come up with an alternative for the parent. The 10-day suspension, Edgecombe explained, would be given once the student failed to show up to school, adding that the student is not suspended from attending school.

The school’s attorney also advised that the school was not required to provide bus service for students suspended from riding buses, Edgecombe said.

A special education student could be suspended from riding the bus if, for example, they’re behavior is deemed to be harmful to other students, said Ralph Lee, Dist. 200 policy committee chair.

But Patchak-Layman argued that the school should provide alternative transportation, such as taxi service, for the student.

Cheryl Witham, Dist. 200 chief financial officer, said the school does offer a taxi service to students in some instances.

Edgecombe, though, maintained that the school does not have to provide such a service. He also warned against creating a situation where a student, say, would act up to get out of riding the bus for the convenience of a taxi.

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