Judge Rules School Yoga Is Fitness and Not Religious

SAN DIEGO, CA–(Marketwired – Jul 5, 2013) – San Diego Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer ruled July 1st in Sedlock v. Baird/Encinitas Union School District that the District’s twice-a-week yoga program for students passes constitutional muster and is exercise, not religious indoctrination. Partners Jack M. Sleeth, Jr. and Paul V. Carelli, IV from the law firm of Stutz Artiano Shinoff Holtz, successfully represented the Encinitas Union School District on a pro bono basis. Following a six-day non-jury trial, the Judge denied the claim brought by two parents and their two children asserting that the yoga taught through the District’s nine schools was religious, and thus unconstitutional. The yoga instruction was part of a health and wellness curriculum the District developed with a grant funded by the Jois Foundation. The yoga program used poses from several different types of yoga, including Ashtanga, modified to be “kid friendly.” After some parents complained that yoga was a religion, Superintendent Timothy Baird testified the program was modified so that all cultural references were removed, Sanskrit words were omitted, and students could opt out of the yoga program and participate in other physical education activities in order to meet minimum physical education requirements. In his two-hour ruling, Judge Meyer found that, based on court documents and testimony, the District program passed the legal test because “any reasonable student would not associate yoga with religion the way that the District has set-up this program.” The Encinitas Union School District announced that it expects the decision to be appealed.

About Stutz Artiano Shinoff Holtz:

Stutz Artiano is a general practice law firm founded in 1982. The firm has 39 attorneys and five regional offices in San Diego, Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Practice areas include Employment, Education, Municipal Law, Land Use Environmental, Estates Trusts, Real Property, Construction, and Insurance. Visit www.stutzartiano.com for further information; or contact info@stutzartiano.com / (619) 232-3122.

Shari Randall
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