Whether LCHS 7/8 students in competitive sports should be granted their request to be excused from physical education because of injuries or other health concerns was an issue taken up by the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board this week.
How to offer an independent study education course to support such student athletes — if that’s even possible — was a related question at the board’s meeting on Tuesday night.
The amount of time the athlete trains, the athlete’s objective (to reach the Olympics, play in college, etc.) and participation in three sports all figured into questions asked at the meeting.
“We can at least start a conversation,” said board President Kaitzer Puglia.
There is no alternative to a physical education class and excusing students from P.E. does not comply with the California Education Code, according to the meeting’s agenda report.
Additionally, the report said, students who are injured and present a doctor’s note don’t participate in P.E. and spend the period in counselors’ offices or working on assignments under a teacher’s supervision.
The Education Code requires schools to provide physical education even when students are unable to perform it, according to the report.
Ultimately, the governing board directed Associate Superintendent Anais Wenn to bring proposed guidelines to a future meeting.
“The reason we still want them to participate is based on Education Code requirements,” Wenn said. “They have to have those experiences.”
La Cañada High School offers alternative athletic program pathways for its 9th- through 12th- graders, including an elite-athlete plan, but board members said circumstances for the older students are different from those of 7th- and 8th-graders.
Gary Dennis, who had brought the issue before the board last year, said Tuesday that his granddaughter, a 6th-grader, practices gymnastics 19 to 25 hours a week as part of her training to become a junior Olympian. He said that because of those rigors, he would like the student to be able to skip P.E.
“What it creates is the dilemma I can’t resolve,” said Dennis, who also noted his granddaughter would not be affected by the district’s actions. Dennis said he was considering home-schooling for her but wanted to see if the school board could help.
Wenn later asked La Cañada Elementary School Principal Emily Blaney to see whether accommodations could be made for Dennis’ granddaughter.
On a 4-0 vote, the board approved moving forward with fencing projects for Palm Crest, La Cañada and Paradise Canyon elementary schools, instructing administrators to look at 7-foot-high fencing options in front of the schools.
Board member Brent Kuszyk was not in attendance.
Parent David Haxton shared his concerns about installing a 6-foot-high fence in front of the schools.
He showed the board photos of himself standing beside various fences, including a 7-foot fence at Flintridge Preparatory School and a 6-foot fence at St. Bede the Venerable School.
“Mr. Haxton, you’ve made that look like a really small fence,” said board member Dan Jeffries, referring to the 6-foot-high fence, before the vote to some laughter from the audience.
Earlier, Haxton had listed his concerns about deciding on the fencing without the help of a security consultant and what he saw as the ease of climbing even a 7-foot-high fence with a step ladder.
“If you’re looking for safety and security for students, I think you need 8 feet,” he said.
Board member Joe Radabaugh said the board had a safety audit team that included law enforcement and members of the Department of Homeland Security look over their plans.
“This will be the first installment of the fence plan,” Radabaugh said. “This does take a long time and we have a window to hit. Let’s try to not skip steps … but I think the team is very confident fencing is part of the plan. It won’t be the only piece. It warrants some action sooner rather than later.”
Jeffries said the point was the board is trying to have a single entry point for elementary schools.
“The casual visitor will not jump the fence,” Jeffries said.
The preliminary cost for fencing at Palm Crest, including a concrete ramp, is $270,000, according to a Sept. 20 report titled “Elementary Schools Fencing Project.” But that wouldn’t be the entire project; the overall preliminary safety and security construction budget for the school is $435,000.
The initial cost for La Cañada’s fencing, including a steel rolling gate, is $193,000, with an overall budget of $660,000, according to the report.
The preliminary price for Paradise Canyon’s fencing, including gates, is $147,000, and its total budget is $587,000.
The next steps are to give direction to the architect for fencing standards, a preliminary consultation with the Division of the State Architect on accessibility requirement and complete the design work, according to the report.
Drafts for each site were presented at an Aug. 28 meeting, when the board directed that each site be revisited.
The Facilities Master Plan identified several safety and security projects at each of the school sites as part of the Measure LCF Bond Program and the board approved an agreement to prepare studies of fencing options at each elementary site on April 9.