Ruling in yoga trial expected on Monday

Jun 28, 2013 by

A ruling is expected at 9 a.m. Monday in the closely-watched trial challenging an Encinitas school yoga program, attorneys said last week.

Lengthy closing arguments wrapped up Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court.

Scheduling conflicts and Judge John Meyer’s desire to take his time with the decision pushed back the ruling.

The case is believed to be the first of its kind to test whether yoga is a secular exercise or a form of Hindu-based religion that’s inappropriate for public schools.

The ruling could have far-reaching implications.

“If the court rules that yoga is a religious belief or practice, that will tend to stop all yoga being practiced or supported by all governments,” said Jack Sleeth, the San Diego-based attorney representing the elementary school district.

He clarified that the judge’s ruling would only be binding for the Encinitas Union School District, but could lead to future rulings that impact other jurisdictions.

An appeal is widely expected no matter the outcome of the case, attorneys for both sides said last week.

The district began offering yoga as part of physical education at all of its schools in January. The program is funded with a three-year, $533,000 grant from the K.P. Jois Foundation. On its website, the Encinitas-based group says it promotes a children’s health and wellness program that includes yoga, meditation and proper nutrition.

Dean Broyles, who represents district parents opposed to the classes, said in court that the foundation has “transparently religious goals” to indoctrinate school children with Hindu-based yoga.

“There’s something much more than P.E. going on. There’s a worldview being taught,” added Broyles, who is attorney and president of the National Center for Law & Policy, an Escondido-based nonprofit legal defense organization which focuses on the protection of religious freedom.

via Ruling in yoga trial expected on Monday |

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