TSD Keynote Speaker to Address Sexual Behavior Concerns on Special Needs Routes

by | Oct 11, 2023

Attendees at the 2022 annual Transporting Students with Disabilities and Special Needs Conference engaged in sessions focused on managing risk, advocating for the best standard of care, and more. (Photo by Vincent Rios Creative.)

The Transporting Students with Disabilities and Special Needs (TSD) Conferencenext month will feature a keynote session discussing awareness of sexual development of children with disabilities and how to support student safety when appropriate sexual behaviors on school buses result.

School psychologist and licensed clinical social worker Shelley Rutledge will present her keynote session on Saturday, Nov. 18. She will tackle this sensitive topic and bring light to the vast spectrum of harmful or non-normative sexual behaviors — the clinical term is problematic sexual behaviors — that can manifest themselves in the students with special needs population.

Rutledge will discuss the importance of motive and context when reviewing incidents of problematic sexual behavior as students with special needs and disabilities are more likely to engage in it. They are also highly likely to be exploited. She will also highlight the importance of communication between transportation departments and administrators to ensure the school bus drivers are informed about student vulnerabilities and cognitive abilities. She will present strategies for transportation departments to utilize their knowledge of the students and create safer situations for all passengers.

Rutledge plans to break down the shock and fear behind problematic sexual behaviors and encourage attendees to understand the nuances of the student’s circumstances, including environment, trauma and lack of social awareness.


Rutledge served as the threat assessment coordinator for Willamette Education Service District in Oregon before joining nearby Salem-Keizer School District, where she coordinated the Sexual Incident Response Committee that is a part of the district’s safety and support response team. She worked closely with school psychologist and STN EXPO Reno keynote speaker John Van Dreal, who spoke in July on risk factors and aggressive behavior prevention onboard the school bus.

She also serves in advisory positions providing consultations, staff training regarding issues of problematic sexual behavior and criminal sexual misconduct in students ranging from kindergarten to high school completion.

Save $50 on conference registration with the Early Bird Discount, valid through Oct. 13. Visit tsdconference.com to register.