From My Mailbox: Portland School Cannot Take Away Recess for Failure to do Homework

I recently heard from the father of a 7th-grader in Portland, Oregon, who told me that he and his wife allow their son “to set his own priorities and to decide for himself whether he wants to do his homework. A couple of the teachers in the school took offense by this approach and exercised all sorts of disciplinary actions against him for not completing his homework. Initially they detained him during lunch recess time. After challenging that practice and going all the way to the school district attorney it turned out that this practice is actually against the district own rules applying US federal policy to combat obesity in American children.”

Hearing from this father reminded me how important it is for all of us to carefully check school policies. The Portland policy is from an Administrative Directive, which states:

On June 30, 2004, Congress passed Public Law 108-265 and reauthorized federal funding for Child Nutrition Programs. Section 204 of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act directs all school districts participating in the federally funded Child Nutrition programs to establish a local school wellness policy for all schools in the district. The Board of Directors of the Portland Public School District adopted Board Policy 3.60.060-P (Student Wellness through Nutrition and Physical Activity) on June 12, 2006. The Portland Public School District is committed to school environments that promote life long wellness by supporting a school environment with excellent and consistent nutrition, nutrition education, physical education, and physical activity.

* * *

Section II (3)(c)(B) Schools shall not deny student participation in recess or other physical activities as a form of discipline or for classroom make-up time. While this practice has been used by many throughout the years, continued use is strongly discouraged and should be avoided.

Unfortunately, the school decided that since it couldn’t take away recess, it would instead bar the student from all school electives (two complete afternoons a week).

If you have any advice for this father as to how to challenge the banishment from electives, please post a comment or send me an email.

5 thoughts on “From My Mailbox: Portland School Cannot Take Away Recess for Failure to do Homework

  1. Gee, we have sort of the opposite problem. Opposite to obesity that is. Teachers in our school seem to regard lunch as their free period, in which to make up any undone work, or for detention. The problem is that this practice interferes with —- lunch! Part of good nutrition is certainly not eating too much and getting exercise, but the other part is a proper diet eating at proper time periods through out the day. Medical professionals indicate we really need 4 to 5 meals a day to maintain proper blood sugar – which is necessary for proper brain concentration.

    Schools need to walk the talk that they teach in health class – good exercise and good diet – leave lunch and recess alone!


  2. i think students should not homework because stress is
    on us and teachers go crazy if we do have it .
    And i get tried of it and i am in 7th grade and have 8th periods and i get homework in each period and i am tried.


  3. There might be more to the story than a student not completing unfinished homework at home. Many times, teachers keep students inside during morning, lunch, or afternoon recess because the students have refused to do the work–not because they haven’t completed the work. Maybe the students do not understand the work or find it uninteresting.

    If a school cannot keep a student from having recess, taking extra-curricular activities may work if he or she participates in basketball, volleyball, choir, or track and field.


  4. i think it is WWAAYYY unfair to us im an eighth grader in texas and let me tell ya it sucks! i have homwork a lot every day AND we have a test every week plus the one mile run and runs every tuesday and thursday, plus now they have taken away my one thing i love, art and took away my elective of art and replaced it with an all homwrok for and hour and i want a fight im trying to take this to court because im sick and tired of them thinking that they can do whatever they want! fight back for my sake please!!


  5. First, more information is needed here. Are the parents just saying he doesn’t have to do his homework because he doesn’t WANT to? If so, Uhhh Be a parent! However, if the parents are fighting back because they believe that the school, like many of our schools today, is giving entirely too much homework, then THAT should be the issue.

    Like Daniel said, kids have 8 classes they go to each day. If they receive homework in each one of those classes then they not only are in school for 7-8 hours, but your asking them to take another 4-5 hours to do homework! That’s INSANE!!!! Schools are asking our children to put in more time than a full time job!

    Our children are just that, Children! They need time to play and have fun! The last thing that needs to be taken away is there recess. It’s the only time they have to socialize and learn how to deal with real life situations.


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