Roles of Districts, Schools, Parents/Guardians, and Students

Explanation:  Clarifying the roles of the various players involved in safe active transportation is an essential piece of any policy. One of the best ways to avoid disputes is by making sure that schools, families, and students have the same understanding about who is responsible for student safety and behavior at any given time. It is important to specify the roles of each participant and to clarify the responsibilities, expectations, and potential liability of all parties. 

Option 1: The roles of District, families, and students regarding travel to and from school are as follows:

a.      District/Schools. The role of District and individual schools is to encourage safe travel to and from school, and particularly to encourage active transportation. Notwithstanding certain exceptions, District and individual schools assume no liability for injuries or other damages, including property damage, that may occur while a student is in transit to and from school.[38]

b.      Parents and Guardians. The role of parents and guardians is to make informed decisions about which mode of transportation best suits their student in light of (i) the student’s personality, age, maturity, physical and cognitive development, and decision-making abilities, and (ii) the street, traffic, crime, and other relevant conditions likely to be encountered by the student when traveling to and from school. Parents and guardians are legally responsible and otherwise accountable for their student’s safety and well-being when the student is traveling to and from school.

c.       Students. The role of students is to be safe and responsible while traveling to and from school, following state and local law and the rules established by their families, and obeying school rules while traveling on school campus. Students should act as good role models for their peers by observing traffic and safety rules, caring for property, and being courteous to others.



Do not include this element in my policy.

Legal Note: Liability, of course, is a major concern for school districts and individual schools alike. This policy sets forth the district’s intent that it not take on new responsibility or liability for school travel. Under certain circumstances, however, a district will have such responsibility and potential liability. If, for example, a student is traveling on a school bus, then naturally a school district might face liability if the student were injured as a result of negligence or the like.  Please be sure to review the resources referenced below to get a better understanding of how liability works in the school context.

Getting Started

Each page of the Policy Builder consists of an explanation of one policy element, followed by one or more potential choices for wording of that element.  Read the explanation, then read each of the element choices.  

  • If you don't want to include this element in your policy at all, click on "Do not include this element in my policy." 
  • If you do want to include this element, click the wording you'd like to use for that element.  In general, the first option on the page is the least stringent, and each subsequent options becomes more stringent.  After each is a "Score," represented by 1 to 3 stars.  The more stars, the more stringent the wording, and the stronger that element will be in your policy.

At the bottom of the page you'll see "Previous" and "Next" buttons which you can use to navigate through the twenty-six different elements in the policy.

In the left sidebar you'll see a list of policy elements, organized into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.  In addition to using Previous and Next, you may jump directly to any section. 

When you've addressed all the elements, click the "Finish" link, or simply click the "Next" button on the last element in the list.  You'll receive a score based on the policy choices you made, as well as some suggestions as to how to improve that score and make your policy stronger.  You can follow those links, or use the links in the left sidebar to change any of your choices.

When you're satisfied with all your choices, return to the "Finish" page and click the "Download My Policy" button to save a copy of your policy to your computer.  You can open and further edit this file in Microsoft Word or any other word processor. 

If you have any questions, please contact us at or use the "Help with Policy Builder" link in the left sidebar.

That's it!  Click "Get Started" below to begin your Safe Routes to School policy!

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Each policy is eligible for a given number of stars, depending upon how much the policy contributes to creating a safe and encouraging atmosphere for children to walk and bicycle to school. Some policies are only eligible for one star, others for two stars, and others for three stars. For some policies, selecting a stronger option may provide additional stars.

Users of this document should be aware that every funding source has different requirements governing the appropriate use of their funds. Under U.S. law, no federal funds are permitted to be used for lobbying or to influence, directly or indirectly, specific pieces of pending or proposed legislation at the federal, state, or local levels. Organizations should consult appropriate legal counsel to ensure compliance with all rules, regulations, and restrictions of any funding sources.