July 1, 2009 will be the official date NYS School Bus transporters will need to begin training their staff in disability awareness per the 23 page powerpoint the State Education Dept has provided for School Bus Driver Instructors (SBDIs). DAT applauds this move, recognizing the need for training for all drivers and monitors, something we have been providing for four years. The need for the law comes after the horrific abuse of then 7 year-old PJ, a student who exhibited some behaviors on his bus that both the driver and monitor 'enjoyed' and encouraged.

As much as the law is intended to prevent abuse (an area DAT has developed on-line training for DD direct support professionals and Home Health Aides), another overlooked need is simply equipping personnel with awareness training. DAT has trained many districts and the overriding response is "why didn't we get this earlier." My reply is to thank your district for providing it now, recognizing the many districts that either provide no training or do it "in house." Content needs to go beyond the basics and must include sensitivity training that highlights injustice and discrimination while defining disabilities and how to best interact. Issues like challenging behaviors and the parent-professional partnership are also imperative to achieve an atmosphere that is most conducive to a safe and comfortable bus ride.

Dave is available to train districts throughout the school year, but emphasizes training is best if conducted prior to the year beginning. DAT, as always, is available as a resource for anyone that has received training.