Transportation for Shared Programs (May 2015 School Leader Update)
The Department has received several questions from districts and parents alike requesting clarification on who should provide transportation for shared programs – the district or the parents. If a sending school district contracts with a receiving school district to provide a vocational program as part of the sending district’s offer-and-teach requirement, the sending district is required to provide transportation. This is based on several laws and is not a close question. Examples of these programs include: gifted and talented programming, agricultural programs, special education tuition out, special education alternative discipline placements, alternative schools or programs, or any other shared programming offering that is required under offer and teach. This does not include cooperatives or work experience options. In those scenarios, the student provides the transportation.
Now let me explain why this is the case. First, the sending district is obligated to provide a tuition-free education. A tuition-free education includes “all facilities, supplies, and other items necessary or essential to instruction.” AG Opinion 12-28-79. This includes providing all necessary transportation during the school day. Iowa Code chapters 282, 285 (2015). A district is not providing a program to its resident students if it contracts with another district and then does not take steps to provide transportation.
Second, providing transportation to students would be necessary for the courses to be offered under the offer-and-teach rule.
A subject shall be regarded as offered when the teacher of the subject has met the licensure and endorsement standards of the state board of educational examiners for that subject; instructional materials and facilities for that subject have been provided; and students have been informed, based on their aptitudes, interests, and abilities, about possible value of the subject.
Iowa Admin. Code r. 281—12.5(16) (emphasis added). A school district that does not provide access to the facilities in which a course is taught has not offered it. For these reasons, a resident district that contracts with a receiving district to offer a course and does not provide transportation to that course is out of compliance with its obligation to offer a tuition-free education, and the course cannot be counted toward the minimum program required by Chapter 12.