Physical Education violations cited in U. S. Department of Education Civil Rights Filing

Six California organizations filed an administrative complaint citing unequal access to physical education opportunities by minority and low income students in California.  The complaint suggests that unequal access to physical education instruction results "in a devastating impact on long-term health and welfare of our children".

This filing comes on the heels of a 2014 settlement in a lawsuit by Cal 200. Cal 200 is a California nonprofit organization advocating for the right of children to receive 200 physical education minutes each 10 days in California's elementary schools.  The group, Cal200, originally filed its class action in 2013 in the Superior Court of the State of California, San Francisco County, alleging that the 37-named districts failed to provide students with 200 minutes of physical education instruction every 10 school days as required by California Education Code Section 51210.  A settlement was reached in that case in 2014 which required elementary schools to keep publicly available documentation proving that school children are getting the minimum state-mandated amount of physical education.

The recent filing with the U.S. Department of Education by The City Project, The California Center for Public Health Advocacy,  The Prevention Institute, The Latino Coalition for Healthy California (LCHC), The Anahuak Youth Sports Association (AYSA) and The California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance refers to Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in programs that receive federal funding. It also notes a 2014 "Dear Colleague" letter sent to districts by the U.S. Department of Education noting equal education opportunity means requiring that all students have access to a diverse range of courses and extracurricular activities, including athletics.

In their letter to the U.S. Department of Education, the groups point to several recent studies finding that minority and low-income students in California have less access to physical education and significantly lower physical fitness passing rates.
"There is disturbing evidence of both unjustified discriminatory impacts, and intentional discrimination, in access to resources for physical education and fitness in California public schools," the letter states.
The full letter, available here, seeks to have the California Department of Education, school districts and schools voluntarily comply with the law, using the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Physical Education Tool Kit and Checklist. It also asks schools and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to adopt a valid auditing system to ensure compliance with civil rights and physical education laws.
An Associated Press Story on the topic can be found here

The following information was made available in the CAHPERD press release on August 14, 2015.

The City Project is a multicultural, Latino-led team of civil rights advocates working with diverse allies to achieve equal justice, democracy and livability for all.

The California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization at the forefront of solving the obesity and diabetes epidemics by advocating for groundbreaking policies that build a healthier California.

The California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD)is a nonprofit that promotes the organizing and progress of school, community and statewide programs of health, physical education, recreation and dance.

The Prevention Institute serves as a national focal point for primary prevention practice - promoting policies, organizational practices and collaborative efforts that improve health and quality of life.

The Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC) was founded by health care providers, consumers and advocates to impact Latino health through enhanced information, policy development and community involvement.

The Anahuak Youth Sports Association (AYSA) is a nonprofit organization that was created to serve as an alternative to drugs, gangs and crime, using soccer as a hook to keep children off of the streets.