Safe trips: Why more schools are hiring transportation monitors

Their role goes beyond simply being an extra pair of eyes—they can be instrumental in creating a controlled, safe, and peaceful environment for the nation’s most vulnerable students.
Mitch Bowling
Mitch Bowling
Mitch Bowling is the CEO at EverDriven Technologies, a provider of supplemental and alternative student transportation for school districts nationwide. He leads the EverDriven team as they aim to provide equal opportunities, mobility, and peace of mind to the most vulnerable in our communities

Most education professionals, especially those managing student transportation, understand how much time, coordination and attention is needed to simply get students to and from school.

This is especially true when coordinating transportation for the nation’s most vulnerable students, those with disabilities, who may require extra physical or emotional support to ensure safe transportation. Monitors play a key role with these students, and in recent years, there has been a sharp increase in demand for monitors, especially in alternative student transportation.

Alternative student transportation, which involves transporting students in small-capacity vehicles, offers school districts a safe and cost-effective way to provide crucial transportation services to students, including those with unique needs. That includes students with disabilities, students experiencing housing insecurity, students in foster care, and students who attend a school that is out of their district or in a hard-to-reach location.

Benefits of transportation monitors

Having a transportation monitor in the vehicle can be a major benefit to both the driver and the student. Their role goes beyond simply being an extra pair of eyes—they can be instrumental in creating a controlled, safe, and peaceful environment, which is especially important when it comes to setting the student up for a successful day at school.

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Monitors provide:

  • Safety and Security: Monitors can help ensure the safety and security of students and drivers during transit.
  • Behavior Management: Their presence alone can deter disruptive behavior, and they can intervene when necessary to address any issues. This can lead to a more controlled and peaceful environment, reducing the risk of interfering with the driver and thus accidents.
  • Parental Peace of Mind: Parents often feel more at ease knowing that there is adult supervision on the school vehicle.
  • Special Needs Support: For students with disabilities, having a monitor on board can help with securing mobility devices and ensuring the comfort and safety of vulnerable students.
  • Compliance: Monitors can help ensure that the transportation service complies with safety regulations and district policies.
  • Improved Driver Focus: With a monitor onboard, drivers can concentrate on the road and their primary responsibility of safely operating the vehicle.

Demand continues to grow

As already mentioned, the demand for monitors in alternative transportation has increased rapidly in recent years. EverDriven, the nation’s largest provider of alternative student transportation, has seen a nearly 106% increase in trips requiring monitors since School Year 21/22, which is over double the 46% increase we have experienced for trips overall. This increased demand reflects school districts’ commitment to keeping students safe, and keeping risk to the district low when transporting medically fragile children or students with unique needs.

One of the most significant reasons behind the need for more monitors is the increase in students requiring transportation services with individualized support. Federal regulations, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Every Student Succeeds Act and McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, require that public schools provide services to students to meet their unique educational needs.

Yet with many schools facing funding challenges, school transportation services tend to dwindle, with monitor jobs frequently being eliminated or going unfilled. The problem can be especially severe in larger school districts that have more students with disabilities. This could pose not just a safety risk to schools but a legal one as well. Financial challenges also mean that it can be a struggle for schools to ensure these roles are fully funded.

What does this mean for the future of school transportation?

Monitors play a vital role in ensuring the safe transportation of students. The growing demand for monitors, in alternative transportation, reflects school districts’ commitment to provide safe and reliable transportation options for all students.

School districts should continue to work creatively to accommodate the growing need for monitors. Given the ongoing staffing shortages, ensuring availability of monitors internally and with their vendors will be critical. School district administrators, in conjunction with families, teachers and community stakeholders, should also continue to advocate for transportation solutions with more monitors to ensure a safe ride to school for the students who need them.

Our students deserve reliable and safe transportation—and monitors are a key part of making that happen.

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