Mason City Schools is among a growing list of Ohio school districts to opt out of a controversial unfunded state mandate requiring body mass index screening of students.
Mason’s Board of Education voted unanimously Sept. 13 to ask the Ohio Department of Education to waive its requirement that Mason measure the BMI of students and report those numbers to parents and the state.
“While I understand that we want to make sure children are healthy, this is an invasion of students’ privacy and is a private conversation best left to families and their physicians—not our schools,” said Connie Yingling, board member.
The BMI requirement is part of the Ohio’s Healthy Choices for Healthy Children Act, which took effect in June 2010. School districts annually must take BMI, a measure of body fat based on a person’s height and weight, in kindergarten and grades 3,5 and 9.
The number helps determine whether a child’s weight could place him or her at risk for chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or heart problems.
The law requires schools to report aggregated student BMI, along with demographic data, to the ODH. No information can identify an individual child.
Under the law, schools, including private and charter schools, can request a waiver to the screenings. The law also allows parents to opt their children out of the screenings.
An analysis by The Enquirer in February found that about half of Ohio’s 614 schools districts had filed for waivers.
Districts have been critical of the screenings, citing a lack of staff, time and expertise. Others say that the unfunded mandate cuts into class time and that BMI screenings are not the school’s job.
Discuss: Are school BMI screenings helpful and necessary?
Why or why not?
Posted in: Board of Education, Schools |