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Group Opposing Yoga in School Files Suit Against District

Attorneys for the National Center For Law & Policy filed the suit Wednesday to have the schools halt a controversial yoga program.

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.

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Sarah Riccitelli February 20, 2013 at 10:58 PM
I agree w/most of what everyone says here! One small caveat: it would be wise to educate oneself about the socio-cultural aspects of yoga (i.e. religion: Hinduism) before one practices it. At least, know what you're getting into. It is essentially a religious practice.
Helen kiwan February 20, 2013 at 11:39 PM
All three of my kids went to school in Encinitas and I honestly thought I had seen and heard it all from the nitwitted parents around here but this most certainly takes the cake!!! Honestly get a LIFE!
Nancy Lazerson February 20, 2013 at 11:42 PM
This boggles the mind. If these rparents are so concerned about undue influences on their children, one might point out this is why we have parochial schools. Otherwise, teaching children a peaceful way to de-stress their bodies and increase focus in schools should not be the focus of a frivolous and ridiculous lawsuit.
L.J.R. February 21, 2013 at 12:31 AM
I would like to say that yoga by all deafinition is very religious my husband is of the Hindu culture and yoga is religious also I really don't have anything against yoga for the kids at schools except that it should be OFFERED as an after school program not during school when our children are not being taught the core subjects due to budget cuts so PLEASE get real and help the schools teach our kids reading, writing and math and P.E. not yoga !!!
sam February 21, 2013 at 12:42 AM
Wow, I actually saw this coming .. I don't agree with the lawsuit but I was curious about how some of the die hard Christians that fill our neighborhoods would feel about the Eastern influence. My son would be crushed without his morning recess yoga session.
Surfing Siren February 21, 2013 at 12:48 AM
Throw it out of court!
Elizabeth February 21, 2013 at 01:18 AM
Again, those of you who claim practicing yoga is religious and should be removed on that basis, do you need me to point out all the Christianity that is practiced at school? All the day of the dead, "holiday" crafts, Saint Patrick's Day celebrations, "egg" coloring sheets, even birthday celebrations, some religions don't appreciate any of this, so should we remove it all? Or teach our children tolerance? Why is your god/religion/beliefs more important than mine?
FC February 21, 2013 at 02:32 AM
Let's just think for a moment that this WAS about religion and children WERE being exposed to Hinduism or another religion. If you have read this far and are starting to become concerned, contact your lawmakers -- because teaching about religion IS part of what is taught in California public schools: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/cf/documents/histsocsciframe.pdf It is not teaching religion and forcing views on others -- but an awareness of the world's religions and how this has impacted and will impact the world. What would be so bad to about an awareness of other's belief's? What about the Jewish child coloring the Santa? The Christian student learning about Hanukah? The Moslem child learning about Hindus? Come on...and see that the future of the world is about knowledge and not ignorance! If you want your child to be ignorant, then you have a right to have them attend private schools. Public schools are for the public and, as such, have a responsibility to teach beyond limited rhetoric of one religion's views. This is not my opinion, but belongs to the entire State of California and its lawmakers, citizens, and teachers. Let's not worry about practicing yoga and focus our energies about practicing knowledge and tolerance.
Patches February 21, 2013 at 03:23 AM
A quote I read: "Yoga is in religion but religion is not in yoga."
Tomarra February 21, 2013 at 05:23 AM
Why won't the school district & the foundation just offer it titled as a "stretching/breathing" class in their after school program if there is no religious aspect involved? I men...if healthy movement for a p.e. class is all they're after...why not bend? Is there a problem with still receiving/giving the $533,000 using those parameters? If they dig in on this case & refuse to alter it to fit our standard of separation of church & state in public schools...then it sounds like someone IS trying to push their religious agenda.
Chris Saunders February 21, 2013 at 06:26 AM
I wonder the people filing suit against the school district over yoga practice are also in favor of returning prayers to public schools.
Tomarra February 21, 2013 at 06:32 AM
probably...unfortunately. so many people seem to have a problem with the concept of fairness/equality when they do not like the outcome or it doesn't favor their own personal interests :'(
Vbeltran February 21, 2013 at 06:38 AM
Have any one of you attended these yoga sessions? I bet that the parents who are suing didn't even bother to sit in on one of these classes, they just hear "Yoga "and they Use it as an opportunity to push around their so called "christian"beliefs on others! I' m a believer, and in no way do I feel threatened by this yoga program being offered to my child at her school here in Encinitas. This is frivolous and in no way should be considered as a credible lawsuit against our district, there are more important things to worry about than such nonsense. Makes me wonder why they had to go all the way to Escondido for a lawyer.
Vbeltran February 21, 2013 at 06:46 AM
And I don'tlike to call myself a christian , because of people like these that are suing giving Christianity a bad name! Whatever happened to what would Jesus do? Why even go to church if you are not going to apply the message to your own lives just use it to point fingers at others! I dont think Jesus had to sue anyone to get his message across!
Bill February 21, 2013 at 08:20 AM
Throw Yoga out of the schools daily curriculum and make it an optional after school program and the problem is solved. If we had any type of leadership out of Tim Baird, Marla Strich, Gregg Sonken, Carol Skiljan or Emily Andrade we would not even be having this discussion. Just one more major failure of the leadership of the current Superintendent and some members of the Board of Trustees!
Bill February 21, 2013 at 08:27 AM
I am amazed at how ignorant you are with your comments. If someone wants separation of church and state they are ignorant and have the option to attend private schools. Since the federal, state and local government are paying for public education which according to the Constitution requires the separation of church and state it is you who should be seeking out private schools if you don't like it!
Vbeltran February 21, 2013 at 04:49 PM
It's not a daily curriculum , it's a once a week class that is part of physical activity. It's great for the kids. I would suggest that the parents who are suing, get together and donate THEIR money or time to offer an alternative class during the class for the parents who don't want their kids in yoga. It seems hey have so much time on their hands anyway with suing and all.
katie February 21, 2013 at 05:14 PM
Hand raised
Bill February 21, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Vbeltran Please read and understand the comment before you reply. You will not look uneducated if you do this.
Vbeltran February 21, 2013 at 05:50 PM
The thing is that I do not understand your comment, sorry. I don't mind looking uneducated if it means getting my point across, I'm not trying to impress anyone especially not you mr.bill.
Surfing Siren February 21, 2013 at 06:02 PM
We have to stop being so silly people! It seems like once you pass a certain age so many people start acting like grumpy old men! It doesn't matter if yoga is used by a religion or spiritual group, it isn't being used that way in the schools! Yoga on Encinitas! Stop the madness, throw it out of court, and the people who found this a matter to fight against need to get a life, job, or something better to spend their time on.
Coastrunner February 21, 2013 at 06:08 PM
I am in support of the yoga program staying in the schools but it does appear that the school board was fairly naive in not expecting there to be problems with how the program was initially set up. Previous discussions of this on Encinitas Patch brought up the fact that the academic research behind this program is being done by a University of Virgnia professor that is an Ashtanga yoga devotee and is closely allied with the Jois family. From what my kids said about the early classes at Capri, the classes were not as secular as you would see at the Y or even a yoga studio. It does appear that they have cleaned this up but the district should have screened the program more thoroughly from the start. Separation of church and state is extremely important. It needs to apply equally to all, wether it is trendy Eastern spirituality or (less poplular in Encinitas) conservative Christianity.
Mike Dismukes February 21, 2013 at 08:35 PM
This is not a church/state issue as stretching and breathing is not by definition, a religious practice. And stretching and breathing is all we are talking about as it pertains to the school's offerings. Relax, breathe a little... jesus... Libertarians.
Cindy Christ February 21, 2013 at 09:20 PM
Carrie, I saw this article on another website, and I was wondering - is there any truth to their claims that yoga going children were bullying those who opted out of the yoga program? I cannot imagine that to be true, as the kids who go to yoga would more likely have parents that do not teach bigotry, and bullying as communication methods.
pam February 22, 2013 at 02:48 AM
Wondering why no one has been upset that the YMCA programs are in the schools..."YMCA From Wikipedia Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) Classification Christian Geographical areas Worldwide Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland Founder George Williams Origin 1844 London, Great Britain Official website Ymca.int The Young Men's Christian Association (commonly known as YMCA or simply the Y) is a worldwide organization with more than 58 million beneficiaries from 125 national associations.[1] It was founded on 6 June 1844 in London and it aims to put Christian principles into practice by developing a healthy "body, mind and spirit". These three angles are reflected by the different sides of the (red) triangle – part of all YMCA logos. The different local YMCAs are voluntarily affiliated through their national organizations. The national organizations in turn are part of both an Area Alliance and the World Alliance of YMCAs. The World Alliance's main motto is: "Empowering young people" and it is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The World Alliance has a charter from the United States Congress."
Surfing Siren February 23, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Another site reporting on this states, "The suit was filed on behalf of Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock, who have 2 children enrolled in the EUSD." http://theyogablog.com/encinitas-schools-sued-over-yoga-program/ The mother's FB page is littered with Biblical "likes" and states she is from Oklahoma. I think she is confused about where she lives.
Bill February 23, 2013 at 05:02 PM
MH, Since you don't know the Sedlock's you should keep your opinion to yourself. They are two of the nicest most generous people that I know. They are not one of the selfish people that want yoga in the schools despite the constitutional violations are trying to BULLY their opinion onto the communities of Encinitas and South Carlsbad. The simple cure to this is to make it an after school program like football, baseball or basketball and those who Choose to participate can at no cost. Unfortunately, you supporters do not want to be inconvenienced to have to do this outside of the normal school day. You are worried about the Districts money being wasted to defend this lawsuit, which will be less than $1Million, but you don't have an issue with Tim Baird and the Board of Trustees wasting almost $11 Million. You are probably also an Obama supporter who I would like to thank for putting our community in the financial Black Hole we are in!
Vbeltran February 23, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Why should yoga be offered after school, as opposed to part of the P.E. ? It's only a 3 or 4 students per school, whose parents oppose the yoga class. The children have been offered an alternative class to take if they want to opt out of Yoga, which by the way has been stripped of any religious aspect it's basically stretching! No one is trying to push anything religious or violating anybody's rights, if anything it's these few parents that are suing trying to push their religious beliefs on others. I have heard these kind of Christians talk around here, they think it's their mission to get anything with the word Yoga out of this town without regard to how and who they are hurting during The process. I mean this is Encinitas, yoga is everywhere. Please just move somewhere else if you do not like the district to actually care enough to offer something beneficial to our children in school. My daughter attends school here, and I feel blessed that she can attend such a great public school . Also, everyone has their right to their opinion, since your so into constitutional rights and all do not tell anyone to keep their opinion to themselves.
Vbeltran February 23, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Mrs.Sedlock is a professional motivational speaker?! Well she sure is not bringing out the best in people in her own community by trying to strip thousands of innocent children of their right to be able to do a basic physical activity during school. This lawsuit is probably not a wise choice for her reputation, her name is all over the news , where by the way is where it stated what she did for a living.
Surfing Siren March 12, 2013 at 02:52 PM
Oh no Mr. Bill! Has the U.S. gone too progressive for you? Is Encinitas too liberal for you for you to understand? The Sedlocks are not the "nicest" people to me. They are public enemy #1 to me and I don't know them. Let me tell you what they did that offended me... they took their minority Bible-thumping opinion and pushed in on the majority of a beach culture that embraces surfing and healthy lifestyles, and yoga is a part of that here. Did they poll to see if the majority of parents felt they same way before they tried to shove their Bible down our throats? The majority of this community does NOT buy the constitutional violation angle and knows if comes from the pulpit of the conservative Christians! Therefore, they have directly offended me and because I have a child in the Encinitas schools and I want her to do yoga for P.E.! Perhaps you need to consider how you deal with progressive change Mr. Bill or leave the direction of the future to the younger generation and take a breather. This is the place for opinions Mr. Bill. You should know, you slam everyone on here.

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