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Wednesday
Oct302013

After Criticism, School District Ends PE Class Weight Checks

Photodisc/Thinkstock(ISSAQUAH, Wash.) -- A school district in Washington state has decided to stop performing weight checks in physical education class after parents complained that students were being weighed too publicly.

“I can tell you that the board does not agree with a policy of publicly weighing students,” Issaquah School Board President Brian Deagle wrote in an email to ABC News.

“Concerns have come forward from parents, students and community members that raised valid points regarding student self-esteem issues,” Deagle wrote.  “Taking these concerns into consideration, we have made the decision to discontinue the practice of collecting student weight and height in our PE classes.”

The decision stems from concerns raised by moms including Blythe Mercer, who said her daughter’s weight was taken in a public setting at Beaver Creek Middle School.

“Students should not be weighed in a school setting, in a public setting,” Mercer told Seattle ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV.  “You don’t line up your staff and weigh them either.  It’s just ridiculous.”

The Issaquah School District said the weigh-ins were part of a program “that promotes students living healthy, satisfying and productive lives.”

Earlier this month, ABC News reported on a school district in Florida that weighed students and then sent letters to their homes, disclosing whether they were overweight.  In that case, one mom thought the letters could be damaging to a young student’s confidence, making them more insecure.

“To give a kid a letter telling them the rest of their life they may be overweight or they may be obese because of a measurement you took one day, it’s just not fair,” Kristen Grasso, a mother of four, said to ABC News.

Schools began to administer more Body Mass Index (BMI) screenings after a 2005 suggestion from the Institute of Medicine.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was tasked with guiding the implementation of screenings in schools.

Although a spokesperson for the CDC told ABC News that the organization doesn’t have a position on BMI screenings, CDC guidelines say “schools that initiate BMI measurement programs should have in place a safe and supportive environment for students of all body sizes.”

The guidelines also say schools should “establish safeguards to protect student privacy.”

Back in Issaquah, Mercer told KOMO the screenings can negatively affect a student’s morale.

“We [Issaquah] are known for a high suicide rate.  Do you really want to poke another pin in that balloon?” she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio