Albany, CA, December 2, 2010 – On November 30, 2010, the Third District Court of Appeal issued a ruling in the case of Doe v. Albany Unified School District. Doe v. Albany Unified School District is a lawsuit challenging the District's application of a statute regarding the number of physical education instructional minutes that are to be provided to elementary students over a specified period of time. The District's position has been that although it meets the statutory requirement, the applicable statute does not create a mandatory duty on school districts to provide the specified number of physical education instructional minutes. Instead, the statute allows a school district to tailor a program to fit the needs of its pupils within the broad common state curriculum prescribed by the Legislature. The trial court and California Department of Education agreed with the District's interpretation of the Education Code requirements. In supporting the District’s position, the trial court specifically noted the “Legislature’s recognition of the need for a common state curriculum . . . tempered by its concurrent recognition that, because of ‘economic, geographic, physical, political and social diversity,’ there is also a need to develop programs at the local level that will best fit the needs and interests of the pupils.”

On appeal, the Third District Court of Appeal disagreed with the trial court's conclusion and found that the statute creates a mandatory duty on school districts to provide the specified number of minutes of physical education instruction. The Court of Appeal expressed concern about the effect of its decision, acknowledging that “one might reasonably question the wisdom of the Legislature micromanaging the state’s education system by mandating that schools throughout the state, regardless of circumstances, provide a minimum physical education requirement . . .” Superintendent Marla Stephenson notes, “this case has a great deal to do with local control of schools, a cause which the Board of Albany Unified School District supports. Our goal has been to ensure that the District can implement programs in the fashion that is the most beneficial to Albany's students.”

The District is currently considering whether to petition the California Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeal's ruling. The Court of Appeal ruling did not make any determination as to whether the District complied with the statute. Rather, the ruling merely remanded the case to the trial court for the purpose of allowing Plaintiffs to amend their complaint to see if they can state a proper cause of action against the District and the California Department of Education. On advice of counsel, the District has no further comment on this pending litigation.

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