2010 Wisconsin Code
Chapter 121. School finance.
121.54 Transportation by school districts.

121.54

121.54 Transportation by school districts.

121.54(1)

(1) City option.

121.54(1)(a)

(a) Subsections (2) and (6) and s. 121.57 do not apply to pupils who reside in a school district that contains all or part of a city unless the school they attend is located outside the city but within the boundaries of the school district.

121.54(1)(b)

(b) If a school district elects under sub. (2) (c) to provide transportation for the pupils under par. (a), state aid shall be paid in accordance with s. 121.58, and there shall be reasonable uniformity in the transportation furnished to the pupils, whether they attend public or private schools.

121.54(1)(c)

(c) Paragraph (a) does not apply to pupils who reside in a school district that contains all or part of a 1st, 2nd or 3rd class city with a population exceeding 40,000 unless transportation for the pupils is available through a common carrier of passengers operating under s. 85.20 or ch. 194.

121.54(2)

(2) General transportation.

121.54(2)(a)

(a) Except as provided in sub. (1), every school board shall provide transportation to and from public school for all pupils who reside in the school district 2 miles or more from the nearest public school they are entitled to attend.

121.54(2)(am)

(am) In lieu of transporting a pupil who is eligible for transportation under par. (a) to and from his or her residence, a school district may transport the pupil to or from, or both, a before- and after-school child care program under s. 120.125, a child care program under s. 120.13 (14), or any other child care program, family child care home, or child care provider.

121.54(2)(b)

(b)

121.54(2)(b)1.

1. Except as provided in sub. (1) or otherwise provided in this subsection, the school board of each district operating high school grades shall provide transportation to and from the school a pupil attends for each pupil residing in the school district who attends any elementary grade, including kindergarten, or high school grade at a private school located 2 miles or more from the pupil's residence, if such private school is a school within whose attendance area the pupil resides and is situated within the school district or not more than 5 miles beyond the boundaries of the school district measured along the usually traveled route.

121.54(2)(b)2.

2. In lieu of transporting students under subd. 1. and paying for transportation under sub. (8) (b), an underlying elementary school district of a union high school district may elect, by resolution adopted at its annual or special meeting, to transport elementary school children who reside within the underlying district and qualify for transportation under subd. 1., in vehicles owned, operated or contracted for by the district. Once adopted, such a resolution may be repealed only upon one year's notice to the board of the union high school district of which the underlying district is a part. An elementary school district shall notify the union high school district of any action under this paragraph no later than June 15 preceding the school year in which the elementary school district's action takes effect.

121.54(2)(b)3.

3. Annually by April 1, each private school shall submit its proposed attendance area for the ensuing school year to the school board of each school district having territory within the proposed attendance area. If a proposal is not submitted by April 1, the existing attendance area shall remain in effect for the ensuing school year.

121.54(2)(b)4.

4. No later than May 15 in each year, each private school shall notify each school board of the names, grade levels and locations of all pupils, if any, eligible to have transportation provided by such school board under this paragraph and planning to attend such private school during the forthcoming school term. The school board may extend the notification deadline.

121.54 - ANNOT.

Cross Reference: See also s. PI 35.06, Wis. adm. code.

121.54(2)(c)

(c) An annual or special meeting of a common or union high school district, or the school board of a unified school district, may elect to provide transportation for pupils who are not required to be transported under this section, including pupils attending public school under s. 118.145 (4). Transportation may be provided for all or some of the pupils who reside in the school district to and from the public school they are entitled to attend or the private school, within or outside the school district, within whose attendance area they reside. If transportation is provided for less than all such pupils there shall be reasonable uniformity in the minimum distance that pupils attending public and private schools will be transported. Except for elementary school districts electing to furnish transportation under par. (b) 2., this paragraph does not permit a school district operating only elementary grades to provide transportation for pupils attending private schools.

121.54(2)(d)

(d) A school board may provide transportation for teachers to and from public school, subject to the same controls and limitations as apply to the transportation of pupils.

121.54(2)(e)

(e) Notwithstanding par. (a), if a pupil is living outside the school district in which he or she is enrolled because the pupil's parents or guardians have joint legal custody, as defined in s. 767.001 (1s), of the pupil, upon the request of the pupil's parent or guardian the school district shall transport the pupil to and from an agreed-upon location within the school district.

121.54(3)

(3) Transportation for children with disabilities. Every school board shall provide transportation for children with disabilities, as defined in s. 115.76 (5), to any public or private elementary or high school, to the school operated by the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired or the school operated by the Wisconsin Educational Services Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing or to any special education program for children with disabilities sponsored by a state tax-supported institution of higher education, including a technical college, regardless of distance, if the request for such transportation is approved by the state superintendent. Approval shall be based on whether or not the child can walk to school with safety and comfort. Section 121.53 shall apply to transportation provided under this subsection.

121.54(4)

(4) Summer class transportation. A school board may provide transportation for pupils residing in the school district and attending summer classes. If the school board provides transportation for less than all pupils, there shall be reasonable uniformity in the minimum and maximum distances pupils are transported.

121.54(5)

(5) Transportation to technical colleges. The school board of a district operating high school grades may provide for the transportation or board and lodging of residents of the school district attending technical colleges outside the school district who are not high school graduates, are less than 20 years of age and attend such colleges full time. The school board of such a district may also provide transportation for residents of the district participating in vocational education programs organized cooperatively between school districts under s. 66.0301. The school district shall be paid state aid for such transportation or board and lodging in accordance with s. 121.58. This subsection does not apply if the distance between a pupil's home and the technical college along the usually traveled public highway is more than 15 miles, unless the pupil resides on an approved bus route or board and lodging are provided.

121.54(6)

(6) Transportation in special cases. The school board of a district operating high school grades which, under s. 121.78 (2) (a), must permit a pupil to attend high school outside the school district shall provide transportation for such pupil if the pupil resides 2 or more miles from the high school that the pupil attends.

121.54(7)

(7) Transportation for extracurricular activities.

121.54(7)(a)

(a) A school board may provide transportation for pupils attending public or private schools, their parents or guardians, authorized chaperones, school officers, faculty and employees and school doctors, dentists and nurses in connection with any extracurricular activity of the public or private school, such as a school athletic contest, school game, after school practice, late activity, school outing or school field trip or any other similar trip when:

121.54(7)(a)1.

1. A school bus or motor bus or a motor vehicle under s. 121.555 (1) (a) is used and such transportation is under the immediate supervision of a competent adult.

121.54(7)(a)2.

2. A school operated by the school district or the private school has an actual interest in the safety and welfare of the children transported to the activity;

121.54(7)(a)4.

4. The school principal or other person with comparable authority authorizes such use.

121.54(7)(b)

(b)

121.54(7)(b)1.

1. If transportation is provided to pupils and other persons in connection with any extracurricular activity of a public school under par. (a), the school board may make a charge for such transportation, to be paid by the persons transported, sufficient to reimburse it for the cost of providing the transportation. If transportation is provided to pupils and other persons in connection with any extracurricular activity of a private school under par. (a), the school board shall make a charge for such transportation, to be paid by the private school or the persons transported, sufficient to reimburse it for the cost of providing the transportation.

121.54(7)(b)2.

2. The school board may contract under s. 121.52 (2) (b) for transportation authorized under par. (a) for pupils attending public schools. The school board may authorize a charge for the transportation, to be paid by the persons transported, sufficient to make reimbursement for the cost of providing the transportation.

121.54(8)

(8) Payment of transportation costs.

121.54(8)(a)

(a) The cost of providing transportation for pupils under subs. (1) to (6) and s. 121.57 shall be paid by the school district in which they reside, and no part of such cost may be charged to the pupils or their parents or guardians.

121.54(8)(b)

(b) At the end of the school term, every union high school district shall submit to each of its underlying school districts operating only elementary grades a certified statement of the actual cost for the school year, less the amount to be paid for such pupils for that school year under s. 121.58 (2), of transporting the private school pupils residing in the underlying school district under sub. (2) (b). On or before June 30 in each year each underlying school district shall reimburse the union high school district for the net cost of transporting its resident private school pupils as so reported in the statement.

121.54(9)

(9) Transportation in areas of unusual hazards.

121.54(9)(a)

(a) In school districts in which unusual hazards exist for pupils in walking to and from the school where they are enrolled, the school board shall develop a plan which shall show by map and explanation the nature of the unusual hazards to pupil travel and propose a plan of transportation if such transportation is necessary, which will provide proper safeguards for the school attendance of such pupils. Copies of the plan shall be filed with the sheriff of the county in which the principal office of the school district is located. The sheriff shall review the plan and may make suggestions for revision deemed appropriate. The sheriff shall investigate the site and plan and make a determination as to whether unusual hazards exist which cannot be corrected by local government and shall report the findings in writing to the state superintendent and the school board concerned. Within 60, but not less than 30, days from the day on which the state superintendent receives the sheriff's report, the state superintendent shall determine whether unusual hazards to pupil travel exist and whether the plan provides proper safeguards for such pupils. If the state superintendent makes findings which support the plan and the determination that unusual hazards exist which seriously jeopardize the safety of the pupils in their travel to and from school, the school board shall put the plan into effect and state aid shall be paid under s. 121.58 (2) (c) for any transportation of pupils under this subsection. Any city, village or town may reimburse, in whole or in part, a school district for costs incurred in providing transportation under this subsection for pupils who reside in the city, village or town.

121.54(9)(am)

(am) Any person aggrieved by the failure of a school board to file a plan with the sheriff as provided in par. (a) may notify the school board in writing that an area of unusual hazard exists. The school board shall reply to the aggrieved person in writing within 30 days of receipt of the aggrieved person's notice. The school board shall send a copy of the board's reply to the sheriff of the county in which the principal office of the school district is located and to the state superintendent. Upon receipt of the school board's reply, the aggrieved person may request a hearing before the state superintendent for a determination as to whether an area of unusual hazard exists. If the state superintendent determines that an area of unusual hazard exists, the state superintendent shall direct the school board to proceed as provided in par. (a).

121.54(9)(b)

(b) Within 30 days after the sheriff's report is received by the state superintendent, any aggrieved person may request a hearing before the state superintendent on the determination by the sheriff and on the plan. After such hearing, the state superintendent shall proceed as provided in par. (a).

121.54(9)(c)

(c) The state superintendent and the department of transportation shall establish a definition of "unusual hazards" and "area of unusual hazards" for the implementation of this subsection. Such definition shall be promulgated, as a rule, by the state superintendent.

121.54 - ANNOT.

Cross Reference: See also ch. PI 7, Wis. adm. code.

121.54(10)

(10) Attendance in nonresident school district. Subject to s. 118.51 (14) (a) 2., a school board may elect to provide transportation, including transportation to and from summer classes, for nonresident pupils who are attending public school in the school district under s. 118.51 or 121.84 (4), or its resident pupils who are attending public school in another school district under s. 118.51 or 121.84 (4), or both, except that a school board may not provide transportation under this subsection for a nonresident pupil to or from a location within the boundaries of the school district in which the pupil resides unless the school board of that school district approves.

121.54 - ANNOT.

History: 1971 c. 162; 1973 c. 89, 107, 333; 1975 c. 60, 392, 421; 1977 c. 227, 252, 418; 1981 c. 20 s. 2202 (51) (e); 1983 a. 27, 175; 1985 a. 29 s. 3202 (43); 1985 a. 218, 225, 240; 1993 a. 399, 492; 1995 a. 27 s. 9145 (1); 1995 a. 439; 1997 a. 27, 113, 164; 1999 a. 9, 117; 1999 a. 150 s. 672; 2001 a. 57; 2005 a. 68, 224; 2009 a. 185.

121.54 - ANNOT.

Sections 121.51 (4) [now 121.51 (1)] and 121.54 (2) (b) 1., as enacted in 1969, are constitutional. Vanko v. Kahl, 52 Wis. 2d 206, 188 N.W.2d 460 (1971).

121.54 - ANNOT.

Exceptions to the mandatory provision of transportation should be narrowly construed. The exception for children who "reside in cities" should be confined to its common and approved usage. Morrissette v. DeZonia, 63 Wis. 2d 429, 217 N.W.2d 377 (1974).

121.54 - ANNOT.

Although a private school was only 127 feet beyond the 5-mile limit of sub. (2) (b) 1., statutory construction was not available to extend the limit. Young v. Mukwonago Board of Education, 74 Wis. 2d 144, 246 N.W.2d 230 (1976).

121.54 - ANNOT.

A public school board's refusal to transport parochial pupils during a public school vacation violated sub. (2) (b) 1. Hahner v. Wisconsin Rapids Board of Education, 89 Wis. 2d 180, 278 N.W.2d 474 (Ct. App. 1979).

121.54 - ANNOT.

Common carrier passenger service need not be available to all city pupils for school board to possess the option under sub. (1). The "reasonable uniformity" requirement was directed at the distance that pupils are transported, not at the means of transportation that is chosen. St. John Vianney School v. Janesville Board of Education, 114 Wis. 2d 140, 336 N.W.2d 387 (Ct. App. 1983).

121.54 - ANNOT.

Students within a private school's attendance area under s. 121.51 (1) were entitled to transportation under sub. (2) (b) 1. although the campus they attended was not within the public school's 5-mile transportation radius, but another campus to which they could be transported was. Providence Catholic School v. Bristol School District No. 1, 231 Wis. 2d 159, 605 N.W.2d 238 (Ct. App. 1999), 98-3390.

121.54 - ANNOT.

Reading sub. (2) (b) 2. with s. 121.55, elementary schools are not restricted to providing transportation vehicles owned, operated, or contracted for by the district, but they also have the alternatives available under s. 121.55. Providence Catholic School v. Bristol School District No. 1, 231 Wis. 2d 159, 605 N.W.2d 238 (Ct. App. 1999), 98-3390.

121.54 - ANNOT.

Transportation must be on a reasonably uniform basis to all children attending either public or private schools. 61 Atty. Gen. 240.

121.54 - ANNOT.

Students may have bus riding privileges suspended without being suspended or expelled from school. However, both public and private school students must be afforded due process under s. 120.13 (1) before such a suspension can take place. 63 Atty. Gen. 526.

121.54 - ANNOT.

A public school district did not violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. constitution by refusing to bus the students of charter school created under s. 118.20 (2r) located within its geographical boundaries. Racine Charter One, Inc. v. Racine Unified School District, 424 F.3d 677 (2005).

121.54 - ANNOT.

City school busing policies adopted pursuant to subs. (1) and (2) (b) 1. were without rational basis and violated the equal protection rights of city resident private school students who resided more than 2 miles from the school but were denied transportation solely because the school was located 400 feet outside the city and school district boundaries. Deutsch v. Teel, 400 F. Supp. 598 (1975).

121.54 - ANNOT.

Sub. (2) (b) 1. does not deny equal protection to students attending parochial school beyond 5-mile limit. O'Connel v. Kniskern, 484 F. Supp. 896 (1980).

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