A group representing parents of Encinitas students have filed a lawsuit against the Encinitas Union School District.
Attorneys for the National Center For Law & Policy filed the suit Wednesday to have the schools halt a controversial yoga program. The center claims in a news release that the practice violates students’ religious freedoms.
“This is frankly the clearest case of the state trampling on the religious freedom rights of citizens that I have personally witnessed in my 18 years of practice as a constitutional attorney,” attorney Dean Broyles stated. “The program is extremely divisive and has unfortunately led to the harassment, discrimination, bullying, and segregation of children who, for good reasons, opt out of the program.”
Last year, the district accepted a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation to incorporate Ashtanga yoga into the curriculum. At least three schools already had some form of yoga instruction prior to the grant.
In December, Superintendent Dr. Timothy Baird clarified several questions he’d received for the board. “There is no religious instruction,” he said, “only the physical component of yoga is taught.” Baird said the “cultural elements” had been taken out of the yoga program, referring to Sanskrit and any references to the Hindu roots of Ashtanga yoga.
Calls to the district were not immediately returned Wednesday.
—Patch reporter Wehtahnah Tucker contributed to this report.