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Encinitas Parents Sue To Stop In-School Yoga

Parents of Encinitas elementary school students have filed a lawsuit against the Encinitas Union School District. The lawsuit claims yoga classes that are part of the district's physical education curriculum are religious and violate the separation of church and state.

Third graders at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School do the Triangle pose during one of their bi-weekly yoga classes, Dec. 18, 2012.

A complaint filed on behalf of Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock asserts that students who opt out of the yoga instruction are being denied the minimum amount of physical education class time guaranteed under state law and seeks to have the classes ended.


Encinitas Yoga Complaint

Encinitas Yoga Complaint

Encinitas parents have filed a lawsuit against the city's school district seeking the end to in-school yoga classes they say violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

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The classes began at about half of Encinitas' elementary schools this fall after the district received a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation, which promotes Ashtanga yoga.

The couple is being represented by Dean Broyles of the conservative-Christian National Center for Law and Policy. Broyles declined to be interviewed Wednesday. But in a December interview, he likened Encinitas students to religious guinea pigs.

“It is the stated goal of both the Jois Foundation and the district itself is to prove – scientifically – that Ashtanga yoga works for kids here in the district and then export it nationally,” he said.

Encinitas Superintendent Tim Baird said the suit surprised him because he believes the district has worked effectively with parents who had questions about - or opted their children out of - the classes. But his view hasn’t changed since some parents first opposed the classes.

“We’re not teaching religion – so, that’s pretty basic," he said. "We’re doing something that’s very mainstream, that people from all faiths and beliefs do.”

Baird says the district plans to continue the yoga classes and has several law firms offering to represent the district pro bono.

A group of parents began protesting the classes in October and began an online petition against the classes. By the end of the year, the petition had about 260 signatures, while a petition to protect the classes had about 2,700 signatures.

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Avatar for user 'jhante'

jhante | February 20, 2013 at 3:14 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

Incredible, it's just exercise, and something that will benefit their health throughout their lives.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | February 20, 2013 at 3:57 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

260 (8%) against vs. 2,700 (92%) for.

A clear case of tyranny of the minority fueled by lawyers with dollar signs in their eyes.

How sad.

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Avatar for user 'girlsontarget'

girlsontarget | February 21, 2013 at 12:59 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

This continues to make me so sad. I think it's really highlighting the ignorance of those doing the suing. Yoga provides such an amazing way for kids to connect mind and body, build confidence, and lessen anxiety, not to mention all of the physical benefits it provides. None of that has to have anything to do with religion. I sit in yoga classes everyday with people from all religions; we're practicing together in one room and on the same feel good, have a clear mind, to do something good for ourselves, and to walk out feeling better than when we walked in. As a teacher who conducted yoga in my classroom, I've seen first hand the positive benefits it had on kiddos before tests and major projects, as well as how motivating it was to get the kids to think creatively and participate openly in their writing. It's time for people to open their minds and learn that just because one practices yoga, that does not mean one is a practicing buddhist or hindu. This ignorance is so disappointing.

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Avatar for user 'HankRaw'

HankRaw | February 21, 2013 at 4:54 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

Jennifer Sedlock would like to share much information on what shapes her view of this. She was kind and responsive to my own inquiry. Connect with her here, on her own website:

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Avatar for user 'HankRaw'

HankRaw | February 21, 2013 at 5:05 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

Two major players here, Mary Eady:
and Jennifer Sedlock are both well regarded and highly accomplished in their fields.

You'll find their own Christian underpinnings behind their actions. They consider it their duty to raise the alarm on things like creeping Hinduism, neopaganism, Islam and the like. Because, you know, "other" people are into that type of stuff. Can't have that here in America.

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Avatar for user 'DrN'

DrN | February 21, 2013 at 8 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

This is really outrageous. People SO closed minded that cannot see past their own limitations and contribute to their kids lack of exercise.
I believe in being equal and practical. As such, if a judge does rule to remove these program from these children's curriculums, then ALL SPORTS to be removed the education systems. Irrational you might think. NO! Sports have an origin in ancient greek mythology and religion. No sports should then be taught, practiced or even referenced in any school system under the same basis that these ignorant parents are basing the lawsuit on.

With a bankrupt school system, those people should feel grateful an organization is donating money that will benefit kids health.

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