In the heart of Flanders, Belgium, an issue of grave concern has surfaced, affecting the lives of special education students. Namely, the problem lies in a service we often take for granted - transportation. For these students, specifically 6% of them, their daily bus rides have been exceeding the prescribed 90-minute maximum duration, three months into the ongoing school year.
Unanticipated Consequences of Transport Changes
Valerie, the mother of a 12-year-old son, Nand, who falls on the autism spectrum, shares her distress. Nand is a student at GO! Ter Sterre, a special education school in Moorslede. Due to changes implemented by De Lijn, the Flemish transport company, Nand's commute time has almost doubled since the autumn holiday. What once was a 57-minute morning journey has now frustratingly lengthened to 103 minutes.
De Lijn had initiated adjustments to shorten rides by adding more buses. While these changes have improved commute times for a majority of students, for Nand and others like him, the result has been quite the opposite. The alterations have had a detrimental effect on their well-being.
Transport Challenges for Special Needs Students
De Lijn recognizes the issue, acknowledging the extended travel times for a small percentage of students. The organization explains the complexity of organizing transport for special needs students who live far apart and opt for schools that cater to their unique requirements.
The Concerns of a Parent
Valerie is deeply concerned about the potential negative impact the prolonged travel time may have on her son's progress at school. Like any parent, her primary goal is to ensure her child's educational success and overall well-being. The current situation, however, is posing unforeseen challenges to this objective.
The plight of students like Nand and their parents underscores the urgent need for a more effective transportation system, one that caters to the complexities of special education students' needs and does not compromise their well-being.