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Transportation to Public Schools - Q&A

May a school district transport pupils who live less than two miles from the nearest public school the pupil is entitled to attend?

Yes. However, districts that choose to transport pupils who live less than two miles from school may not claim state transportation aid for the transportation of such pupils unless the route they would have to walk to reach the school includes a designated unusually hazardous transportation (UHT) area. A school district may--but is not required to--provide transportation to a pupil who lives less than two miles from school and not in a UHT area, if the pupil's parent or guardian requests such transportation. The school district may charge for the cost of the transportation.

Is there a state law regarding the maximum amount of time a pupil can be on a school bus?

No, there are currently no state statutory requirements regarding the amount of time a pupil may spend being transported to and/or from school. However, individual school boards may adopt policies establishing a maximum amount of time.

Must the school bus pick up/drop off each child in front of his/her home?

No, the law does not require that a child be picked up/dropped off at his/her home. School districts are responsible for establishing bus routes which may include common bus stops.

Is there a state law regarding the maximum distance a child may be required to walk to a bus stop?

No, there is no law specifying a maximum distance a child may be expected to walk to a bus stop. However, individual school boards may adopt policies establishing such a maximum.

If a student has two different residences due to his / her parents’ joint custody agreement, is the school district required to provide transportation to / from both locations?

If both parents live in the same school district, the distance from each parent’s residence to the child’s school would determine whether transportation would be required under state pupil transportation laws and the school board’s policy. For example, if the school board adheres to the two mile limit for pupil transportation and both residences are located two or more miles from the child’s school, transportation should be provided to/from both locations.

The issue of transportation for students living in two different school districts because their parents have joint legal custody was addressed in 2005 Act 224. Upon the request of the parent or guardian, the school district in which such a student is enrolled is required to provide transportation to and from an agreed upon location within the school district’s boundaries. The district is not permitted to charge a fee for such transportation. As was the case prior to Act 224, the law does not prohibit a school district from transporting such a student to/from a location outside its boundaries.

What should I do if I have a specific concern about a local school bus route?

DPI encourages parents/guardians to work with their local school district on such issues as local districts have statutory authority in establishing, administering, and scheduling school bus routes.

What should I do if I have a specific concern about a bus driver?

Generally, school boards are responsible for establishing codes of conduct, including standards of behavior on school buses. If you feel that a school district policy has been violated, you may wish to bring the matter to the attention of the district administrator and/or the school board. If you believe that a crime has been committed, you should contact a local law enforcement agency as soon as possible. The state superintendent has no specific authority in such cases.

If the concern relates to the operation of the school bus, or equipment on the bus, you may wish to contact the nearest State Patrol District Office. Contact information for all State Patrol offices can be found on the Department of Transportation website.

What should I do if I feel the route my child must walk to school is unsafe?

It is understood that all traffic conditions through which pupils must travel present some degree of hazard. If such conditions constitute an unacceptable level of danger and cannot be corrected by other local units of government, a school board may develop a plan to designate such an area as "unusually hazardous" and provide appropriate safeguards, which may or may not include transportation. See our unusually hazardous transportation page for additional information.

Must the public school district provide transportation for extra-curricular activities?

Public school districts may--but are not required to--provide transportation for extra-curricular activities (s. 121.54(7), Wis. Stats.).

Is a school district required to provide transportation at the noon hour for pupils enrolled in half-day kindergarten programs?

Yes. Unless the school district is exempt from the transportation requirement under the "city option" provision (s. 121.54(1), Wis. Stats.), the law requires that transportation be provided "to and from public school" for all eligible pupils. Accordingly, transportation must be provided both from the child's home to school and from school to home. This obligation includes transporting pupils to/from a half-day kindergarten program at the noon hour.

For questions about this information, contact Kathy Fry (608) 224-5343, (608) 267-9114