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Parents can take their children’s public schools to court to force educators to provide the minimum amount of physical education required by state law, the California Court of Appeal ruled in Sacramento on Tuesday, which could spell trouble for a lot of state schools.

California’s education code requires elementary schools to offer 200 minutes of physical education every 10 days, an amount that rises to 400 minutes in middle or high schools, not including lunch or recess. A small-scale survey of state schools a few years ago found more than half failed to provide the required minutes of physical activity.

Last year, a parent in the Albany school district believed Cornell Elementary wasn’t meeting that minimum and sued the district to force it to offer the required physical education, said Donald Driscoll, the parent’s attorney.

The parent was not identified in the lawsuit to ensure anonymity of the children.

“Kids need time to play; they need time to burn off their energy,” Driscoll said. “Now there’s a mechanism for enforcing the law.”

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