Student transportation eligibility is strictly regulated by law (N.J.S.A. 18A:39 – 1 et seq. ) and regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:27 – 1.2 and 1.3). Boards of education have little discretion over who is transported unless the community pays to transport students who, by law, do not have to be bused. Such busing is referred to as non-mandated or courtesy busing.
By law, public school students must be provided transportation if they live beyond two and a half miles for high school students (grades 9-12) and beyond two miles for elementary school students (grades K-8) or if transportation is required by the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). When regular public school students are remote from school within a resident district, nonpublic school students must be provided transportation or aid in lieu of transportation if they meet the remote from school mileage above and live less than 20 miles from their school of attendance, attend a nonpublic school operated not for profit located within the state of New Jersey, and meet the entrance age requirement of the resident district board of education. The maximum expenditure for the transportation of nonpublic school students cannot exceed $884 for the 2011-2012 school year. For the purpose of determining eligibility for student transportation, measurement must be made by the shortest route along public roadways or public walkways between the entrance of the student’s residence nearest the public roadway or public walkway and the nearest public entrance of the school which the student attends.
The responsibilities of a board of education are limited to educational functions. They are not required by law to provide busing for students who closer than the mandated distances, even for safety reasons. Case law has long held that safety along public roadways and walkways is a municipal responsibility. As an example of this, pursuant to section 40A:9-154.1 of state statutes, school crossing guards are appointed by the municipality and are under the supervision of the chief of police or other chief law enforcement officer.
District boards of education may, however, provide transportation for students who reside less than remote distances from their schools in accordance with their local policies and at their own expense. Boards of education may provide non-mandated transportation and charge parents for the service. Municipal governments may also contract with boards of education for this transportation and charge the parents. This transportation service is called subscription busing.
There are areas under the law and regulations on transportation that local boards may govern by local policy. It is important for parents to know the provisions in law and administrative code, as well as the local district policy. DOE does not have the authority to waive the law, regulations or local board policy. Citizens can affect local policy and local budget priorities by expressing opinions at board of education meetings.
More information is available under Transportation.