Parents suing a Southern California school district over its yoga program testified Monday, claiming that the classes are religious in nature and thus is unconstitutional in public schools.
Encinitas Union School District in North San Diego County established its yoga program with a $500,000 grant from the K.P. Jois Foundation in the fall of 2012, with the hope that yoga would help the elementary school students focus on studies, keep them calm and even curb bullying.
District officials said before the program started, instructors removed images of yoga Sanskrit and changed the names of poses. But Monday plaintiffs argued that this wasn't the case.
“We expressed our concern again after hearing about our 7-year-old daughter at class talking about Sanskrit names for her limbs that she was taught in school,” said Stephen Sedlock, who, along with his wife, is suing the school district.
He also said he became worried after reading an article that suggested yoga may not be safe for children. His wife, Jennifer, said the yoga program went against the first and second commandment of the Bible, which dictate "I am the Lord your God," and "you shall have no other gods before me."
During cross examination, the plaintiffs revealed that their daughter has never participated in a yoga class at the school. Instead, she learned Sanskrit in art class -- not yoga.
After testimony, the judge said he had a “difficult call to make.”
“Catholic nuns teaching secular courses was troublesome to the court, and the court said it’s an unnecessary and impermissible entanglement for the state to monitor to make sure to take secular course to make sure they don’t slip in something religious,” he said. “And I’m not so sure that’s what we’re looking at here.”
Closing arguments are expected on Tuesday.