“Each and every student deserves the best possible care. Parents trust that we are caring for their child to the best of our ability, and our new partnership with SPED Safe is designed to ensure our drivers are well prepared to support students, no matter their mental, physical, emotional, and behavioral needs,” said Ritu Narayan, CEO and founder of Zum. “Since the early days of Zum, I recognized that the disabilities community was being disproportionately affected by lack of access to sufficient school transportation. We have made it a mission of ours to provide them with the best care possible. With the enhanced training, drivers will be even more equipped than before to look after individuals who require extremely personalized attention, ensuring the safety of all students before, during and after the school ride.”
Educator-backed driver curriculum
Zum’s partnership with SPED Safe introduces a new six-module curriculum specifically designed to train drivers on how to properly care for individuals with disabilities:
- Behavioral basics: Zum drivers are trained on the ABCs of behavior, behavioral science and the principles of applied behavior analysis. This introductory training helps drivers better understand how to provide more personalized care for students (of all abilities).
- Overview & awareness: Drivers receive an overview of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and learn about special education law and confidentiality.
- Structure & routine: Zum is training its drivers on the importance of structure and routine to give them the tools needed to prepare students with disabilities for any changes that may arise day-to-day.
- Evidence-based practices: To help aid with positive reinforcement behaviors and practices, Zum drivers are trained on the types of reinforcement strategies they can take that are consistent with how educators would care for students with disabilities in the classroom.
- Response & de-escalation: Whether it be a student conflict or an isolated circumstance, Zum drivers are equipped to respond to an individual appropriately based on their needs and are taught a variety of de-escalation tactics.
- Communicating & reporting: Transparency has always been a critical component of Zum’s model. Zum is further enhancing its communications by preparing drivers to report effectively to parents, school district staff and the community for any and all incidents.
“With our combined experience of over 100 years in top leadership positions, SPED Safe is proud of its exclusive partnership with Zum because of our shared commitment to enhancing safety across Zum’s school transportation operations,” said Dr. Paul Lavigne, SPED Safe Co-Founder. “Zum’s commitment and participation in the SPED Safe Transportation Series demonstrates their willingness to go above and beyond in enhancing school transportation experiences for students, families and drivers alike. The SPED Safe Transportation Series in conjunction with Zum’s advanced technology and safety features will redefine transportation for all students, particularly those with disabilities.”
Raising the bar on industry standards
Zum works with public schools, private schools and charter schools. At present time, Zum operates in San Francisco Bay Area, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Dallas, TX, Chicago, IL and Seattle, WA. Zum is amidst expansion to establish services in Orange County, CA, Washington, DC, Phoenix, AZ, New York City, NY, Portland, OR, San Diego, CA, Sacramento, CA and Miami, FL.
Zum is at the forefront of driving innovation in student transportation to increase the safety and well-being of all students before, during and after each and every ride. Zum is working with SPED Safe to design highly-specialized courses, exclusive to Zum drivers, to ensure its drivers are qualified to provide premier service and care for students who require additional support. With enhanced training for driving professionals comes added confidence to parents and, of course, a sense of comfort and safety that will be felt by the students.
“Some special needs students express their frustration through actions,” said Zum driver Angela Watson. “The SPED Safe training modules of the Zum SafeGuard Driver Program are how we — as bus drivers — are learning about the needs of each individual student and help cater to their needs. I didn’t have the knowledge as a driver of the ABC SPED Module previously. It really helped me understand that sometimes students demonstrate communication through behavior.”
These new training modules complement the additional safety measures provided through the Zum platform. The Zum app provides ongoing visibility into route updates, a child’s location and the driver’s profile. Families can also use the app to share changes in schedule or pickup location, preferences and feedback, as well as speak with the Zum team directly at any time. Zum also recently introduced SafeGuard, a comprehensive program that ensures the quality and experience of each Zum driver, gives drivers the skills to deliver the best experience to each student on every ride and provides drivers access to its modern technology platform. More transparency, more control and better communication at every step in the process means families can worry less about how their kids are getting to and from school. This emphasis on personalized service and care is especially important for families within the disability community.