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.