Should Band, Sports Be Considered P.E. at Los Gatos-Saratoga High Schools?

New graduation requirement next year irks parents, students who want student band musicians and athletes to be exempt.

The recent adoption of a new graduation requirement making physical education mandatory for incoming ninth graders at both Los Gatos and Saratoga high schools is creating controversy among parents and students.

The issue began being discussed by Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District officials on Oct. 2 and then during the board of education's Oct. 16 meeting.

Superintendent Bob Mistele said earlier this month that trustees reviewed the new requirement earlier this year, in February at a board study session.

The change was supposed to take effect this month, however, it's now been postponed at least for Saratoga High School until the Nov. 13 board meeting at 6:30 p.m. at SHS.

Parents are mainly worried about the impact the mandate will have on band, extra-curricular athletics, students' well being, the Saratoga High School health requirements, elective options and education code requirements.

More than 30 speakers addressed trustees on Oct. 2 about the issue, including LGSUHSD Board of Education candidate Katherine Tseng and several SHS students.

"This issue became a big shock to the Saratoga community because it was not communicated to them until Sept. 24," Tseng said. "This type of decision making does not engage the residents and it's not collaborating with stakeholders."

Tseng urged trustees to review the policy and come up with a requirement that best meets the needs of the students.

Right now the controversy is that under the policy, band and extra-curricular  athletics would not be considered physical education.

Tseng said according to California Education Code 51242, the district can make an exception to the requirement for band and school athletes. Tseng said Palo Alto, Homestead and James Logan high schools make the exceptions, the latter having one of the best band programs in the state.

A petition signed by students at Redwood Middle School in Saratoga asking the board to rescind the requirement was also presented as well as a letter from SHS student Sammie Davey, who asked for the same thing.

In the past, student athletes and band members have been exempt from taking physical education as freshmen and sophomores. However, the board enacted the new policy June 5, which would become effective in the 2013-14 school year.

To read the LGHS freshmen transition redesign proposal for the next school year, see attached PDF.

Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz October 27, 2012 at 02:02 AM
No I don't think they should be considered in the same category. However Band could be under "DANCE". Because of the routines. And that is exercise.
Caissie Stephens October 28, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Sadly, the comments I have heard from students at LGHS who do take PE, say it is not a class where physical fitness is truly happening for the kids to benefit. Several students I have talked to have said it is an environment where cardio is limited and it is a waste of time. My daughter participates in sports both in at out of school, and with this new requirement it limits other developmental growth in other areas. Yes, I agree some kids need fitness...but not the students who are all ready getting it through other avenues. A waiver should be offered to these kids.. This new requirement is not a good fit all, so why are we not looking at options.
Marguerite J. McAfee October 28, 2012 at 11:52 PM
This 'debate' as you refer to it is not just about PE. It is about honesty and integrity. The LGSUHSD Superintendent and the LGHS Principal have, and continue to, lie and misrepresent information to the Board members, parents and students. Bob Mistele and Markus Autrey have yet to provide logical justification for this destructive policy change. The efforts of these two men to implement this policy are and the subsequent unethical and unprofessional behavior is grounds for removal from office. Get educated about the details of this policy and the negative consequences it will have on the lives of the students and families impacted prior to making any additional statements of support.
Marguerite J. McAfee October 29, 2012 at 12:02 AM
If you don't think the physical effort necessary to be a member of the SHS Marching Band and Color Guard is 'enough' to 'count' as being athletic please consider joining the 230+ team members as they rehearse this next Wednesday night from 5:30 to 9:00. Be sure to bring a instrument or flag pole to carry, water and good comfortable shoes.
Mike Davey October 29, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Chuck, If you look at the comments from students and parents at LGHS and SHS you'd find that the decision, if implemented, will hurt kids, hurt the sports and band program, and decrease connectedness at the schools. All bad in my mind: https://www.change.org/petitions/principal-autrey-and-principal-robinson-stop-the-implementation-of-freshmen-pe-2


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