It's Official: No More Healthy Kids Workout (in its Current Form) at Somerset Elementary School
The county education board's ethics panel has ruled—in a closed-door meeting—that a popular kids' exercise program at Somerset Elementary School can no longer operate as it has for the past three decades.
The program will not be allowed to continue in its current form, the Montgomery County Public Schools' Board of Education's Ethics Panel decided at a closed-door meeting last month, The Washington Post reported.
The program has been operating at Somerset Elementary School for the past three decades, and the school's physical education teacher Richard House has taught the class for about half of that time, Patch reported last September.
Students in the program participated in physical activities (like soccer and basketball) before and after school three days a week.
A small fee ($160 to $195 per semester) charged to participating students' families compensated the teacher for his time, but an unlimited number of full, need-based scholarships were always offered so that no child was ever turned away for lack of money, said Morris Panner, a Somerset Elementary School parent, to Patch last fall.
But now, no students can participate, the ethics panel has decided, because the program "violated a district policy that prohibits employees from tutoring their own students for extra pay," The Post reported.
"The panel’s written ruling emphasized that the program was 'laudable' and said that the teacher could operate a similar program elsewhere with students from other schools," The Post reported.
Ironically, the program only came to the attention of the education board's ethics panel last fall when a Somerset Elementary School parent wrote to the board in praise of the program and of its current teacher.
That's when the board decided to suspend the program until a final ruling could be made by the ethics panel.
Over 100 parents signed a petition last fall to keep the program running, Patch reported. About 70 kids (roughly 15 percent of the school's student body) participated in the program each year in recent years, although only about 20 or 30 kids were present at any given session.
Because all participating students—from kindergarteners through fifth graders—joined in the activities together, the youngest kids wore yellow flags and the bigger kids weren’t allowed to tag them 'out,' Patch reported last fall.
Now, the entire program as it is currently run—led by the school's own physical education teather and paid for by the parents themselves—has been tagged 'out.'