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.
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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.