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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Physical education (Sec. 300.108)

Comment: A few commenters stated that, in some States, physical education is not required for every nondisabled child every year and this creates situations in which children with disabilities are in segregated physical education classes. The commenters recommended that the regulations clarify the requirements for public agencies to make physical education available to children with disabilities when physical education is not available to children without disabilities.

Discussion: Section 300.108 describes two considerations that a public agency must take into account to meet the physical education requirements in this section. First, physical education must be made available equally to children with disabilities and children without disabilities. If physical education is not available to all children (i.e., children with and without disabilities), the public agency is not required to make physical education available for children with disabilities (e.g., a district may provide physical education to all children through grade 10, but not to any children in their junior and senior years). Second, if physical education is specially designed to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability and is set out in that child's IEP, those services must be provided whether or not they are provided to other children in the agency.

This is the Department's longstanding interpretation of the requirements in Sec. 300.108 and is based on legislative history that the intent of Congress was to ensure equal rights for children with disabilities. The regulation as promulgated in 1977 was based on an understanding that physical education was available to all children without disabilities and, therefore, must be made available to all children with disabilities. As stated in H. Rpt. No. 94-332, p. 9, (1975):

Special education as set forth in the Committee bill includes instruction in physical education, which is provided as a matter of course to all non-handicapped children enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools. The Committee is concerned that although these services are available to and required of all children in our school systems, they are often viewed as a luxury for handicapped children.

We agree that Sec. 300.108(a) could be interpreted to mean that physical education must be made available to all children with disabilities, regardless of whether physical education is provided to children without disabilities. We will, therefore, revise paragraph (a) to clarify that the public agency has no obligation to provide physical education for children with disabilities if it does not provide physical education to nondisabled children attending their schools.

Changes: Section 300.108(a) has been revised as described in the preceding paragraph.