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Closing Arguments Begin In Encinitas School Yoga Trial

Parents concerned that yoga is inherently religious sued Encinitas city schools to end in-school yoga classes that are part of the district’s physical education curriculum.

Closing arguments began Tuesday in a trial over yoga in Encinitas classrooms.

By Kyla Calvert

Dean Broyles, president of the conservative Christine National Center for Law and Policy, makes his closing argument in a San Diego Superior Court trial against Encinitas Union School District over yoga in city schools, June 25, 2013.

Parents who believe that in-school yoga classes promote Hinduism started protesting at Encinitas Union school board meetings last fall. The ensuing controversy could be put to rest when the judge rules on whether the district can continue the classes.

Dean Broyles, president of the conservative Christian National Center for Law and Policy, is representing district parents Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock, who grew concerned that their child was learning Sanskrit words and drawing mandalas in school.

In his closing argument, Broyles said district efforts to remove possibly religious language from classes was confirmation that religion was there in the first place.

“The names of some of the poses were changed," he said. "Big deal. They stopped using some of the Sanskrit terms. Big deal. They stopped posting the Ashtanga tree on the wall. While that was concerning, it doesn’t fundamentally change what they taught.”

During a break, Jack Sleeth, an attorney with Strutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, who is representing the district, said his closing argument would focus on showing that the district’s health and wellness program has no religious component.

“The district didn’t strip out religion," he said. "The district started without any religion. But when parents objected, the district attempted to accommodate the parents’ concerns and remove those things the parents thought might be religious.”

The yoga classes began last fall after the school district received a $533,000 grant from the K.P. Jois Foundation, which promotes a kind of yoga called Ashtanga.

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