The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Board addresses limited freshman P.E. exemption

By Spencer Dembner and Eric Kopps

On Monday, February 9, the Mountain View Los Altos (MVLA) board of trustees voted on a limited exemption that would allow freshmen taking seven classes to be excused from taking mandatory P.E. classes during a sports season. The details of the vote can be found here:

Under current district policy, all students must fulfill two years of P.E. credit to graduate. All freshmen are required to take one year of P.E., and if they pass California’s fitness tests at the end of their first year of P.E., they may use sports credit to complete the second year of the P.E. requirement. Freshmen with exceptional circumstances, such as injury or competing in sports at the state or national level can receive an exemption from the P.E. requirement on a case-by-case basis.

At a meeting on May 12 last year, the board discussed the issue after board member Debbie Torok had earlier requested a discussion. Parents spoke for over an hour in favor of an exemption, and the meeting was moved to the Alta Vista multi-purpose room to accommodate the crowds. The board was inconclusive but directed the administration to look at options for an exemption. At the January 12 board meeting, district administrators presented three options, one of which was chosen on February 9. Please read the revised options here:

Story continues below advertisement

If either option one or two passes, freshmen with full schedules will still have to enroll in a P.E. class. However, they may choose to skip their P.E. class during a sports season, which leaves them with a free period until the season ends. Once the season has concluded, they must to return to P.E. class.

At the May 2014 meeting, the board was generally opposed to an exemption.

“At the meeting last year, three board members were leaning in favor of…not granting any kind of exemption,” board member Phil Faillace said. “Two members, Debbie [Torok] and myself, were leaning toward granting some type of exemption.”

However, during the January 12 meeting, the board appeared to be in support of the limited exemption offered by option three. Speaking to The Talon, board member Faillace declared that he was leaning towards a vote for option three. Board members Fiona Walter and Debbie Torok were also supportive of an exemption at previous meetings.

“Many families and students have invested heavily in…activities that they cannot pursue if they are [required] to attend a P.E. class,” Faillace said. “I don’t think [MVLA] should make a blanket judgment that valuable as the P.E. program is, it is more valuable than these other activities.”

However, P.E. instructors and administrators worry that students would miss out on important content and experiences from freshman P.E.

“[In P.E.], we have all of our students working together and creating bonds with one another,” P.E. teacher Kiernan Raffo said. “With students coming in and out of the P.E. classes, those bonds aren’t going to be made. You lose that sense of camaraderie, which is really going to affect the entire class.”

P.E. instructors and administrators also voiced concerns about grading exempted students once they re-enter their P.E. class, since these students would be tested on content they missed.

“If you say that [exempted students] should only graded on material from the three or four weeks that they attended, that could be seen as unfair to the students who are in the course for the full semester,” Faillace said. “We need to figure out [grading] if we are to go forward.”

California state law provides the district legal authority to exempt freshmen from attending P.E. under education code 51242. However some, including the district’s own lawyer, argue that the provision has been superseded by later laws providing for other exemptions. This interpretation led the district to discontinue the exemption in 2009.

“[Students] need to get better time management skills [and] maybe not take so many classes,” Raffo said. “Freshman year is one year. There’s plenty of time to fit those classes in, but…you need to learn how to balance your schedule, have good time management and figure out how much you can take.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Talon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *