Exemptions from Health or Physical Education Curriculum
Health Curriculum Requirements
District Waiver Request
Students should not be exempted from the entire class but rather specific topics or lessons. This procedure should be looked upon as a partnership between the parents and the school, designed to best meet the needs of each student and family. The following steps should be taken.
- Teachers should communicate the curricular content to parents.
- The parent should contact the teacher and request a meeting.
- The parent and teachers (and administrator if deemed necessary) should review the entire curriculum and come to an agreement to identify specifically what areas or topics to exempt the student.
- The teacher should supply the parents with the state standards that are met by this topic and agree upon an alternative assignment(s) that will meet these standards.
- A written agreement should be drawn up that includes the following:
- Specific dates the student will be out of class.
- Where and to whom the student is to report on these days.
- The assignment that has been agreed upon by both teacher and parent(s).
- The standards that are being met.
- How the student will be evaluated for this assignment.
- Principal’s approval.
The teacher should make available any resources (lesson plans, books, and videos) that are ordinarily used in the class or are available as alternative materials. However, the parent may use alternative materials that meet the state standards.
If the school is unable to reach agreement with the parent to waive only a portion of the course and a waiver of the complete course is requested, the following procedure applies:
- The parent may request to teach the state health standards using materials and methods that support parent values.
- The district superintendent may waive the health course requirement upon request by the parent. The student must choose another course in place of the health course.
- Another option is a correspondence program aligned to state standards and acceptable to both the school and family.
State Waiver Request
A parent who objects to one or more state standards should request a student waiver by writing a letter to the State Secretary of the Public Education Department and present it to the District Superintendent for local district recommendation and transmittal to the state.
Physical Education Curriculum Requirements
A student may be excused on a year to year basis from physical education classes by the principal. He/she must have on file a written statement from a licensed medical doctor or osteopath, who indicates the physical education activities that would be detrimental to the health of said student. The doctor’s statement must be renewed annually if the condition persists.
This school-based waiver does not exempt the student from his/her obligation to meet graduation requirements as outlined by the Public Education Department’s standards. Before granting a waiver, schools must consider whether or not the student’s needs can be met if the school modifies the student’s physical education program. If reasonable modification can be made, the school has an obligation to provide the modified program for the student. Examples of reasonable modifications include:
- The student may participate with the class on all activities that would not be detrimental to his/her health and be assigned an alternative activity when participation would be detrimental to the student’s health. The alternative activity should be non-punitive and should contribute to the student’s fitness plan or achievement of physical education standards.
- The student may withdraw from the class with no penalty and re-enroll at a later date if the condition will persist for many weeks but is expected to improve substantially at a future date.
- The school may designate an alternative course to fulfill the physical education requirement. At the high school level, this designation must be approved by the Associate Superintendent responsible for curriculum and instruction or his/her designee.
- A high school student may complete a correspondence course aligned to state physical education standards approved by the school to fulfill the graduation requirement for physical education.
- The school may develop an adapted physical education course to meet the needs of physically impaired regular education students.
A student may be excused from physical education classes on a year-to-year basis for religious reasons on the approval of the principal. This school-based waiver does not exempt the student from his/her obligation to meet graduation requirements as outlined by Public Education Department’s standards (as outlined in the following sections). Before granting a waiver, schools must consider whether or not the student’s needs can be met if the school modifies the student’s physical education program. If reasonable modifications can be made, the school has an obligation to provide the modified program for the student.
A student who is unable to achieve the state standards for elementary physical education must receive a waiver from the district superintendent. A student who is unable to complete the middle school and/or high school graduation requirement for physical education because of health or religious reasons must receive a waiver from that requirement from the State Secretary of the Public Education Department.
Waiver Under Section 504
Students for whom a waiver of the physical education requirement is requested on medical or physical disability grounds must receive an evaluation that meets the requirement of Section 504. Following the evaluation, the school will prepare a modified program that accommodates the student’s needs. If the parent objects to the plan and wishes to request a waiver of physical education requirements, or if the recommendation of the Student Assistance Team (acting in accordance with Section 504 regulations) is that the student be waived from physical education requirements, application will be made to the New Mexico Secretary of the Public Education Department.
Requests for waivers of the physical education requirement will be compiled for processing on the last day of each month. Requests should be forwarded to Teaching and Learning Systems. Each student’s request must be accompanied by:
- Student name and I.D. number
- A letter of request from the principal (or designee) attesting that the school has investigated all alternatives and believes that a waiver of the requirement is in the best interest of the student.
- Supporting documents (letter from physician, observation of school officials, minutes of Student Assistance Team meeting or other applicable documents).
The request for a waiver should be made at the beginning of a student’s senior year after the school has verified that the student is unable to participate in a physical education class prior to graduation. Requests will be approved by the district superintendent and forwarded to the State Secretary of the Public Education Department.
A student who has received a physical education waiver is prohibited from participation in any extracurricular activity requiring physical exertion similar to that described in the waiver.
Cross Ref.: Exemption from Physical Education Letter (sample)
Instructional Directive: compliance with Section 504/Americans with Disabilities Act
- PED Regulation 188.8.131.52I
- PED Regulation 184.108.40.206 (Health Standards)
- PED Regulation 220.127.116.11 (PE Standards)
NSBA/NEPN Classification: IMBB
Revised: May 1995
Revised: April 1996
Revised: May 1997
Revised: June 2002
Revised: August 2004