Who is responsible for student transportation?


Who is responsible for student transportation?

Last updated: October 2017

Open-enrollment policies allow a student to transfer to a public school of his or her choice. There are two basic types of open-enrollment policies.

  • Intradistrict: students transfer to another school within their resident school district.
  • Interdistrict: students transfer a school outside of their resident district.

Depending on the state, open-enrollment policies are mandatory, voluntary, or both. 

  • Mandatory policies require districts to participate in the program.
  • Voluntary policies allow districts to choose whether to participate in open enrollment, often allowing school districts the discretion to enter into transfer agreements with other districts.
  • States with both mandatory and voluntary policies usually require mandatory open enrollment in low-performing schools or districts, in defined regions of the state or in other specific circumstances while allowing voluntary open enrollment in the rest of the state.

View the full open enrollment database here.  Please contact Micah Ann Wixom (303.299.3673 or mwixom@ecs.org) with questions or comments.


Who is responsible for student transportation?
Alabama No open enrollment policies.
Alaska Not addressed.
Arizona Each district's open enrollment policies must include transportation provisions. A receiving district may provide transportation for income-eligible students living in an adjacent school district, up to 20 miles each way to and from the school or a point on a regular transportation route. A receiving district must provide transportation, up to 20 miles each way, for students with a disability or an individualized education plan.  
Arkansas Parents are responsible for transportation. Receiving districts may enter into an agreement with the student, student's parent, or the sending district to provide transportation. When a student transfers from a school district under facilities distress, the sending district must pay for transportation.
California Upon the request of the parent, receiving districts may provide transportation assistance to the extent that the district otherwise provides transportation assistance to other students.
Colorado Not addressed.

State policies outline a transportation token program, which provides transportation to another school for students enrolled in or living in the attendance zone of a designated low-performing school and for students (grades 1-8) eligible for free and reduced lunch and enrolled in a low-performing school. Transportation tokens may be used for public transportation or other forms of approved transportation. It is not clear if this program is currently in effect.
Connecticut Voluntary: Local boards of education may, but are not required to, provide transportation.

Mandatory: The department of education sets reasonable transportation limits and provides grants to regional educational service centers or boards of education for reasonable transportation costs, within certain limits. Regional educational service centers must provide reasonable transportation services for high school students who wish to participate in extracurricular activities.
Delaware Parents are responsible for transportation.
District of Columbia Not addressed.
Florida Parents are responsible for transportation. School districts and charter schools may, but are not required to, provide transportation. 
Georgia Parents are responsible for transportation, although school districts may contract with each other for transportation.
Hawaii Not addressed.
Idaho Parents are responsible to transport students to and from the school or an appropriate bus stop within the receiving district.
Illinois Not addressed.
Indiana Unclear, as policies governing transportation expired January 1, 2017.
Iowa Parents are responsible to transport students to a designated bus stop in the receiving district. School districts with open enrollment agreements may make transportation arrangements. Open enrollment students meeting certain income guidelines must receive transportation assistance from the sending district. The district may reimburse parents or provide transportation to a bus stop, but only for students enrolled in a receiving school district adjacent to the sending district.
Kansas Agreements between sending and receiving school districts must have a provision for transportation and for payment or sharing of transportation costs.
Kentucky Not addressed.
Louisiana The receiving district is responsible for transportation when a student transfers to a school closer to the student's residence than the student's assigned school. When a student transfers from a low-performing school, the sending district must provide transportation.
Maine When a sending district has a contract with another district because the sending district does not have a school, the sending district is responsible for transportation costs. When school districts have policies allowing transfers between school districts, the policies must address transportation issues. In other cases, the parents are responsible for transportation costs. 
Maryland No open enrollment policies.
Massachusetts Parents are responsible for transportation. The state will pay when the transfer addresses racial imbalances. Students who receive free or reduced price lunch may qualify for reimbursement from the state which may go to the students' guardian or sending school district, depending upon transportation arrangements and proximity to the school or district.
Michigan Parents are responsible for transportation.
Minnesota The receiving, or nonresident, school district must provide transportation within the district when requested by the parent, but is not responsible for transportation to and from the district's border. Receiving districts may reimburse income-eligible students for the cost of transport to the district border. Receiving districts may apply to the commissioner of education to reimburse the cost of transporting open enrollment students contributing to desegregation or integration plans.
Mississippi Transfer agreements between school districts must include a provision providing for transportation. In the absence of a provision, parents are responsible for transportation.
Missouri Mandatory: The sending district is responsible for providing transportation for students attending another school because their assigned school is unaccredited.

Metropolitan Schools Achieving Value in Transfer Corporation (St. Louis): The board of directors is responsible for making provisions for transportation and receives transportation aid from the state up to 155% of the statewide per-pupil average.
Montana For both voluntary and mandatory interdistrict open enrollment, the attendance agreement between the sending and receiving districts outlines the financial obligations for transportation costs.
Nebraska Parents are responsible for transportation. However, the receiving school district may provide transportation on the same basis as provided for resident students and may charge a fee sufficient to recover the additional costs. Districts must adopt standards for providing transportation for open enrollment students. 

Students eligible for free lunch are eligible for free transportation or transportation reimbursement from the receiving district, as outlined in each district's transportation policies.

Learning community districts must provide free transportation for open enrollment students who live more than one mile from the receiving school and are (1) eligible for free or reduced price lunch, or (2) transferring as part of a diversity focus program who contribute to the socioeconomic diversity.

Students receiving free transportation for the 2016-17 school year must continue to receive free transportation for the duration of the student's status as an open enrollment student or enrollment in a diversity focus program unless the student relocates to another district under specific circumstances.

For students with disabilities, transportation services are provided by the sending school district, which is reimbursed by the state.
Nevada Transportation costs must be paid by the sending district.
New Hampshire For intradistrict transfers, the district is responsible for providing transportation. For interdistrict transfers, parents are responsible for transportation.
New Jersey Sending districts are responsible for the transportation (including transportation aid) of elementary students living more than two miles and to secondary students living more than 2.5 miles from their respective receiving schools. Transportation will not be provided for students living more than 20 miles from the receiving school. The sending district will receive state aid for transportation costs.
New Mexico Districts are responsible for transportation when a student transfers to another school within the same district, although the local board may reimburse parents for travel costs. Sending districts are not responsible for students who transfer to another school district. Receiving districts may make policies about transporting out-of-district students at no additional cost to the school transportation fund, including boarding the bus at the last stop on an approved route if space is available.
New York Not addressed.
North Carolina No open enrollment policies.
North Dakota Sending and receiving districts may provide transportation.
Ohio Parents are responsible for transportation, although receiving districts may provide transportation to and from a bus stop along a regular bus route within the district. Receiving districts may reimburse low-income families for the cost of transporting a student to and from the bus stop. In addition, school boards may be required to provide transportation in accordance with a court-approved desegregation plan.
Oklahoma Upon the request of a parent, receiving districts may provide transportation only within the receiving district's boundaries. However, two school districts may make an agreement allowing the receiving district to transport students inside the boundaries of the sending district.
Oregon Not addressed.
Pennsylvania Not addressed.
Rhode Island The state provides for transportation for students who attend a school located outside the city or town where they reside but only within defined tranportation regions.
South Carolina Not addressed.
South Dakota Parents are responsible for transportation, and sending or receiving districts are not required to provide transportation. However, the receiving district may enter into an agreement to provide transportation within the boundaries of a sending district at an approved pick-up location. Receiving districts may charge a reasonable fee.
Tennessee Districts may require parents to provide transportation, although school districts may create transportation agreements with other school districts.
Texas For students transferring out of a low-performing school, sending district will provide transportation costs to and from the students' assigned schools.
Utah For intradistrict and interdistrict transfers, the receiving district must provide transportation on an approved route within the district if space is available. Otherwise, parents are responsible for transportation. However, sending districts may transport students to school in the receiving districts and the State Board of Education may create policies about transporting nonresident students to the receiving school if transportation would relieve overcrowding or address other serious problems in the sending districts.
Vermont Not addressed.
Virginia Districts may require that parents provide transportation.
Washington Not addressed.
West Virginia Sending and receiving county boards must determine the method of transportation. Sending county boards are responsible for transportation if the county board has initiatied the transfer plan.
Wisconsin Parent are responsible for transportation, but receiving districts must provide transportation for students with a disability. Low-income parents may apply to state for reimbursement. Districts may enter into agreements to provide transportation for out-of-district students. If either the sending or receiving district operates a program of intradistrict transfers, that district is responsible for the cost of transportation. A district may contract directly for transportation or reimburse another district for the cost. A district may provide transportation for a student attending a public school outside his or her attendance area of residence.
Wyoming Not addressed.

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