Lawsuit Will Force California Kids to Take Gym Class

A new settlement will require California elementary school kids to take gym classes.

According to EdSource, the suit was brought about by Alameda parent Marc Babin who is the president of Cal200 and his attorney Donald Driscoll. Cal200 is a group that advocates for physical fitness in youth and derives the 200 in its name from the state’s 200-minutes physical education requirement. Schools will now be required to provide documented proof that their pupils are receiving the minimum required amount of physical education as mandated by state law.

“We think it’s a huge accomplishment and it’s going to benefit public health in California,” Driscoll said. EdSource notes that the 2013 lawsuit was based on 37 school districts, including Los Angeles Unified (which is the largest in the state), alleged refusal to comply with the state’s requirements that kids in grades 1 through 6 must receive 200 minutes of physical education every 10 school days.

Under the settlement agreement expected to be announced in March, elementary school teachers in California will be required to report the minutes they spend teaching physical education and then publish the schedule to parents. The classes will also reportedly be subjected to spot checks from principals and the schedules are to be submitted to local school boards for review.

The quest to monitor the implementation of physical education in California’s elementary schools began in 2009 when Driscoll discovered that his 3rd-grade son was not receiving the state-mandated physical education time at Albany’s Cornell Elementary School. It later turned into a series of lawsuits that were filed by Driscoll, Babin and Cal200, EdSource notes.

A 2012 study of elementary school physical education in 55 districts from 2004 to 2006 found that half of the districts failed to comply with the California Education Code, writes EdSource. A larger audit of 155 districts between 2004-2009 found that half were not compliant with the basic physical education requirements.

Physical education classes have reportedly been pushed to the wayside due to growing concern over improving low test scores. Budget cuts have also reportedly contributed to the drastic reduction, or complete elimination in some cases, of credentialed physical education teaching positions in a host of California’s elementary schools, EdSource notes.

Los Angeles Unified has reportedly said that it would begin implementing its tracking of physical education instruction time once the settlement receives final approval from the judge.

Several school districts have stated that the settlement would not affect their current requirements. EdSource notes that a spokesperson for the San Rafael City School district said the settlement “didn’t change the way we are doing physical education. It’s just providing more monitoring and documentation.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter: @AdelleNaz


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