Buffalo Parents Group Files Petitions Over Physical Education Problems

5:43 PM, Oct 25, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - In the City of Buffalo, parents have been fighting to make sure the city school district offers the proper amount of physical education to students.

For years, claims have been made that Buffalo has not been in compliance with gym time requirements set out by the state.

And now, parents are getting fed up with the issue.

"We've been bringing this issue to the attention of the superintendent and the board repeatedly and we haven't seen resolution on the issue," said Jessica Bauer Walker, a member of the District Parent Coordinating Council, which fights to improve Buffalo schools.

Walker, who has a daughter in first grade, says her child only gets 30 minutes of gym time a week. And that hundreds of other Buffalo kids for years, have not been getting the physical education they need in school.

"We all grew up getting gym class, this is not rocket science, this should not be difficult with all the problems that we have," Walker said.

And with this frustration, members of the council, want the state and specifically education commissioner John King to intervene and make the district fall into compliance.

State law says kids in kindergarten through sixth grade should get physical education everyday and at least 120 minutes per week. Buffalo Schools says K-6th graders get 90 minutes of phys ed every six days, which clearly isn't enough.

And the DPCC disputes that claim saying that younger kids in K-3rd grade get between 30 and 60 minutes every six days.

"We just know as parents, our kids aren't getting that we've talked to the district staff that are responsible for that," said Walker.

Last year, the district passed a Wellness policy to "assist all students in achieving and exceeding New York State standards."

On Friday, Elena Cala, a district spokesperson told 2 On Your Side in a statement: "We are continuing to review this matter to ensure our district's compliance with physical education regulations and policies."

But, Buffalo Schools says they have problems getting kids the right amount of phys ed, because of all the time that's devoted to testing requirements and class work.

The parents made their case in a petition that was given to the district and the state education department yesterday.

Now, it's up to the state education commissioner to investigate the district's physical education program and make a finding.

According to state health data, 33 percent of students in the Buffalo school district are overweight or obese.

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