New high school physical education rules that went into effect last year have caused some confusion for at least two families in Bexley -- and possibly more.
Erica Levine and Jenny Goldson both addressed school board members during the March 10 regular meeting, saying they were unaware that students had to submit an optional physical education waiver to the district prior to participating in an accepted school sport or activity.
Levine said when a number of high school students were informally polled, many were unaware of the waiver's application rules requiring prior authorization.
The high school's physical education waiver reads, in part, "In accordance with Senate Bill 311, students in grades 9-11 may be excused from the physical education (PE) requirement for graduation by participating in district-sponsored interscholastic athletics, marching band, or cheerleading for at least two seasons.
"If the physical education requirement is waived, the student will be required to complete one half-unit, consisting of at least 60 hours of instruction, in another course of study."
The waiver also states, "Prior to participating in a full-season of a sport, marching band, or cheerleading and ... the student should complete and turn in the PE Waiver Intent Form to the high school Guidance Office."
Levine and Goldson said that although they were aware of the waiver's existence, they were not aware of the application timeline.
Levine also noted that her son's summer PE class, which was canceled at the last minute due to low participation rates, was a class he had been counting on for graduation credit.
Harley Williams, principal of secondary schools, argued against changing the application process, pointing out that by applying prior to the beginning of the sport or activity, coaches and directors can then monitor students to ensure they fulfill all of the waiver's performance requirements.
For example, if a student is injured during a season, the policy states, "Injury will not prevent the completion of one season if the coach/director concedes that the student actively participated in 75 percent of practices and participated and/or was able to participate in 75 percent of the contests."
Also, if a student is cut from a team, the policy allows him or her to join another team that same season, as long as the student is able to join within three weekdays after being cut, and a new waiver is submitted.
Under Senate Bill 311, a student is required to complete two full seasons in order to be eligible for the waiver.
The school district policy states "Participation in only one full season cannot be combined with 0.25 credits to meet the PE requirement for graduation."
Following a lengthy discussion, board members agreed to a one-time exception to the filing deadline and will accept after-the-fact applications until March 30. After that date, the district will revert to its previous rules and deadline.
Williams expects only a handful of submissions.
Approved interscholastic sports as part of the waiver include baseball, cross country, lacrosse, tennis, basketball, field hockey, swimming, track and field, cheerleading, football, soccer, volleyball, golf, softball and wrestling. Marching band also is an approved activity.
There is one twist: If a student has not fulfilled the PE requirement prior to the beginning of his or her senior year, the student will be scheduled into a PE class, according to Bexley's policy.
"Participation in an athletic team, marching band or cheerleading will not qualify for the waiver during senior year without the approval of the administration," the policy states.
Information about the waiver and application forms are available through the high school guidance office and can be downloaded from the district's website, bexleyschools.org.