The Petersburg School board prepared a resolution Wednesday to send to the Alaska Association of School Boards, or AASB, urging the state legislature to clarify a statute that makes school districts responsible for paying for physical examinations of incoming students.
School districts across Alaska require incoming students to receive physical examinations and parents or caregivers are responsible for paying for the exams.
But after several Petersburg parents questioned the requirement, the school board had its attorney, Allen Clendaniel, review the 60 year-old state statute. In part, it states, “The governing body of each school district shall provide for and require a physical examination of every child attending school in the district.”
“If you look at the literal language of the statute it says ‘require and provide for’,” Clendaniel said. “I just can’t get over that ‘provide for’ language.”
The school board is currently allowing any new student who hasn’t received a physical to get one from the school nurse.
Other language in the statute specifies that, “Examinations shall be made by a competent physician or, within the scope of chiropractic practice, by a chiropractor, except that if the services of a physician or chiropractor cannot be obtained…may be made by a nurse.”
The school board also wants to widen the scope of health practitioners who can perform physicals. The board agreed on broadening the definition of “competent physicians” to include advanced nurse practitioners and registered nurses.
Board member Sarah Holmgrain wants the physical requirement to be taken out entirely.
“I think it’s an antiquated rule,” board member Sarah Homlgrain said. “I don’t think you can argue that physicals are a bad thing…but at some point we (the school board) are not required to require you to parent your child.”
As the resolution stands now, however, it doesn’t ask that the physical requirement be taken out.
The resolution to be sent to the AASB also states payment for physicals should rest on parents or guardians and not school districts.
Board member Jean Ellis said the board has until September 27 to present the resolution to the AASB. AASB officials will review the resolution, make any changes and later decide whether it should head to the state legislature.