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Lawsuit Highlights Need for Appropriate Bussing for Students with Disabilities

Published October 19, 2017

By Erica Fitzgerald, Esq., & Stacy M. Sadove, Esq., Littman Krooks LLP

On Tuesday October 5, 2017, the Appellate Division, First Department issued a unanimous decision overruling an earlier decision by Justice Alice Schlesinger in an Article 78 proceeding between the Public Advocate of the City of New York and the City Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Farina.  The matter before Judge Schlesinger centered on the safe transportation of students with disabilities as mandated by the students’ Individualized Education Programs (“IEPs”).  The action began in 2015, when two mothers and the Public Advocate brought suit against the Department of Education for its alleged failure to provide air conditioned, safe transportation to and from city schools.

While the rationale for the First Department’s decision is based upon the Public Advocate’s procedural bar from bringing suit on behalf of the students, the decision itself brings to light the significant issue of a school district’s failure to provide safe and appropriate public transportation to and from school for students with medical disabilities. Unfortunately, the First Department’s decision fails to address the factual merits the case, namely the bus company’s failure to appropriately perform its duties under its contract with the Department of Education.  This disturbing failure nevertheless remains, leaving students with disabilities in the precarious position of having little choice but to ride on buses to and from school that may not adequately meet their needs.  If your school district is not meeting your child’s transportation  needs  as mandated by his or her IEP, contact a special education attorney who can help you determine what rights you may have under the law.

A copy of this decision is available on the First Department’s website at

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