Representatives from the NJ Joint Council member districts gathered for a work session to update the bus drivers and aides training materials. L-R: Allyn Schuerman from Warren County Special Services; Sean Daly from Burlington County Special Services; Sharen Dever from Cape May County Special Services; Stacey Lera from Cape May County Special Services; Jacqueline Dubil from Bergen County Special Services; Cynthia Hoenes-Saindon, Special Education Ombudsman; Susan Spence from the Office of the Special Education Ombudsman;
and Tad Derenberger from Atlantic County Special Services

Safeguarding every student on the bus while upholding the highest standards of safety in school transportation is the mission of the New Jersey Department of Education’s Office of School Bus Safety. To contribute to this mission, the New Jersey Joint Council of County Special Services School Districts collaborated with the Office of School Bus Safety to develop specialized training for bus drivers and aides to guide interactions with students with special needs.

On April 23, when National Bus Driver Appreciation Day was celebrated, members from Joint Council districts had a work session with Cynthia Hoenes-Saindon, Special Education Ombudsman. Important updates to the training materials will ensure drivers and aides are equipped with the most up-to-date information and strategies to help all students, including those with special needs, feel safe and supported during transport.

Last updated in 2016, the bus safety training is in accordance with NJSA 18A:39-19.2, and completion is required for all school bus drivers and aides employed or contracted by a board of education. The 28-minute training video outlines proper procedures to ensure the safe transportation of students who have special needs. Topics covered are appropriate behavior management, effective communication, use and operation of adaptive equipment, and understanding behaviors that may be related to specific disabilities.

Each student has specific requirements for support, as outlined in their individualized education program. That information is listed on the student information card, which is readily available to bus personnel. Examples of accommodations needed on a school bus are mobility aids, protective devices, behavioral strategies, environmental considerations, or communication assistance devices.

“We are grateful to Ombudsman Hoenes-Saindon for tapping into the Joint Council’s special education experts to help ensure that not just our students, but students throughout the state are safely transported to and from school,” said Jamie Moscony, Joint Council Chairperson and Superintendent of Cape May County Special Services School District. “This training is just as important for the drivers and aides as it is for the students we are committed to serving.”

The New Jersey Joint Council of County Special Services School Districts comprises districts from eight counties across the state: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Cape May, Gloucester, Mercer, Salem, and Warren. The mission of the Joint Council is to promote the unique role of county special services school districts as providers of highly specialized placements for students with severe and multiple disabilities and cost-effective shared services for local districts. To learn more about the Joint Council, please visit