Atlanta teachers may not be allowed to take away recess for disciplinary reasons

10:08 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017 Education
The current Atlanta Public Schools policy allows educators to withhold recess for students with academic or discipline problems. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

Teachers could no longer take away recess from a student for disciplinary or academic reasons under a proposed policy shift the Atlanta Board of Education is considering.

An existing Atlanta Public Schools policy, last revised in 2013, states that “breaks may be withheld” for those reasons. 

The proposed changes appear in two policies related to instructional scheduling and school nutrition and wellness programs. 

The suggested revision states that breaks “may not” be withheld for academic and disciplinary reasons. 

The recommended changes don’t modify some of the other policy language related to recess.

The suggested policy maintains existing language that states the board “allows a 15-minute unstructured break for students in kindergarten and grades one through five on school days when a physical education class is not scheduled. Unstructured breaks are not permitted for students in grades six through eight.”

The board approved the first reading of the changes when it met  Monday but indicated that more work would be done to tweak the  language before a final vote takes place at a later meeting. 

Board members plan to discuss in more detail possible changes to the existing policy’s prohibition on sixth- through eighth-grade recess. Officials said the middle school exclusion is a holdover related to state requirements. The board could consider removing it from APS policy to give the district more “autonomy and flexibility,” said Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, during Monday’s meeting.

Atlanta’s policy has been a topic of conversation for more than a year, since recess advocates -- including a second-grader at Parkside Elementary School -- asked the board to expand recess.

Earlier this year, a legislative effort to mandate recess in Georgia schools failed.

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