California’s Palo Alto School District Hit with Lawsuit for Failing to Provide Adequate Physical Education

Within the California Education Code, there is a requirement that every school district must provide students in grades 1-6 with 200 minutes of physical education for every ten school days. However, on September 11, the Palo Alto Unified School District was hit with a lawsuit for failing to adequately meet this requirement.

The lawsuit lays blame on the No Child Left Behind Act, put into place in 2001. Claimants state that because the Act calls for students to qualify at the “proficient level” on state testing in core subjects like math and English, many schools have had to cut down on the number of hours for physical education.

The No Child Left Behind Act changed many things about the way school systems in the United States function. Many of these changes impacted the way teachers are hired, classes are structured, and schools are funded. As a result of the Act, many districts thought it necessary to cut funding in certain areas to give due time and attention to the core subjects students would be tested in. Unfortunately, this meant funding for physical education was among the first to go.

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In order to improve standardized testing scores but also keep students in school for a reasonable amount of time during the day, physical education took to the back burner. This was the main argument used in the lawsuit against the Palo Alto School District.

The lawsuit claims that the district responded to the complaint saying the suit had “merit or some merit.” However, the district continues to fall short of meeting the requirement as it struggles to achieve a balance between the time and money it allocates for making sure testing mandates are satisfied, and the physical education students need for a well rounded education.