Knox County mom upset her daughter wasn’t allowed to take wheelchair on school bus

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A Knox County mom wants answers, saying her daughter wasn’t allowed to bring her folding wheelchair on the bus. It’s a special needs bus and the mom says this shouldn’t have been a problem.

The school system, because of federal laws, couldn’t go into detail about this student’s particular situation, but says they do not agree with how the mom says things played out.

Tiffany Barba’s mom picked her up from South Doyle High School Friday afternoon, but says getting the high school senior to school Friday morning was rocky.

“I’m putting Tiffany on the bus and behind me I have her stroller-like wheelchair,” said Debra Rodriquez. “The bus driver says ‘She can’t have that in here.’ and I’m like ‘Why? It’s her wheelchair.’ And she says it’s not allowed on here.”

The wheelchair didn’t make it to school but Rodriquez says it’s been allowed before.

“About three times and never have they said anything,” she said.

The school system believes proper protocol was followed by the bus driver Friday.

“I want to know why,” said Rodriquez.

The answer on whether a student is allowed to bring their wheelchair on a bus when it’s not used all the time depends on what’s detailed in a particular student’s IEP, or Individualized Education Program according to Knox County Schools.

“The school, yes, can provide it but I’m sending hers. Just as she has her own clothes, she has her own stuff,” said Rodriquez.

While she was still able to go to the mall with her classmates, her mom hopes the next time isn’t as challenging.

“That’s the whole point of being on a handicapped bus. It’s part of her,” said Rodriquez.

Knox County Schools says the problem has been resolved even though Rodriquez feels much differently.

Based on Knox County School’s bus handbook, special education case managers are responsible for ensuring drivers receive any notices on necessary bus procedures relating to students with IEPs.

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