Parents upset Issaquah students weighed in front of peers

Parents upset Issaquah students weighed in front of peers »Play Video
ISSAQUAH, Wash. -- Public health - or public shaming?

Parents say the Issaquah School District went too far in weighing in teenage kids in front of their peers.

"I think it's mean. I think it's cruel. And I just don't think that's the place for it," said mom Blythe Mercer. "It's not the right setting and it's not the right assessment. And that I have a problem with."

Mercer, a mother of three, said one of her daughters came home this month after she had to step on a scale "in an open area" in a physical education class. The weigh-in is how teachers will help calculate body mass index - or BMI - for the students, as part of a greater curriculum on health and nutrition, said school district spokeswoman Lorraine Michelle.

"This is not a public weigh-in any sense of it," Michelle said. "There's never been any intention for students to have to weigh themselves in front of their other classmates or have this be anything but just a private thing to do."

Michelle said the district adopted a new curriculum in middle school classes this year where students learn everything from heart rates and fitness to nutrition and overall health. BMI is one part of it, she said, emphasizing that students can weigh in at home or opt out all together if they choose.

"We want to make sure students are very comfortable and feel very safe. This is intended to be something that makes them feel healthy for life and we certainly don't want any of them to feel upset," Michelle said.

She added that the information from the weigh-in remains private and is not sent home in a letter, as was the case in Florida recently. However, she added, the district is now reevaluating the program, in part because this is the first year the schools are using it.

"I really think that my child's height and weight and growth process is really between my child, the pediatrician, and myself," Mercer said. "I just don't think the school is the right place to do it."