By Jane Meredith Adams
As schools tout the importance of exercise in an era of childhood obesity, a California parent and his lawyer have agreed to a settlement with dozens of districts across California that will force elementary schools to prove they are providing at least the minimum amount of physical education required by state law.
“We think it’s a huge accomplishment and it’s going to benefit public health in California,” said attorney Donald Driscoll, who represents Alameda parent Marc Babin and the advocacy group Cal200 in a 2013 lawsuit that alleges 37 school districts, including Los Angeles Unified, the largest district in the state, are out of compliance with state physical education law.
The districts, which educate more than one in five elementary students in 1st through 6th grade in the state, have agreed to a settlement that requires elementary school teachers to publicly document how many minutes of physical education students receive, according to lawyers involved in the case. Under the state education code, schools are required to provide 200 minutes of physical education every 10 school days in grades 1 through 6, but physical education classes have sunk to the bottom of the priority list in many schools that focus on preparing students for standardized tests.