Debra Snell, President
12562 Rough and Ready Highway
Grass Valley, CA 95945
(530) 273-1005 snell
Dan Dugan, Secretary
290 Napoleon St. Studio E
San Francisco, CA 94124
(415) 821-9776 dan
Scott M. Kendall, PLANS' Attorney
8788 Elk Grove Blvd. Bldg. 1 Suite I
Elk Grove, CA 95624
(916) 685-7700 scottkendall



The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to hear the appeal of two Northern California public school districts that are being sued for violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools, Inc., (PLANS), an all-volunteer whistle-blowing group, is suing the districts over their operation of "Waldorf" schools. PLANS contends that Waldorf schools cannot be funded by taxes because they are inextricably entangled with "Anthroposophy," a cult-like religious sect.

On September 24, 1999, the Honorable Frank C. Damrell, Jr., United States District Judge, rejected the defendants' (Sacramento Unified School District and Twin Ridges Elementary School District) motion for summary judgment. Later, on December 17 of last year, Judge Damrell allowed the schools to make a pre-trial appeal to the higher court on just one issue, "standing." The schools asserted that PLANS doesn't have the right to sue.

Judge Damrell had affirmed PLANS' standing when he rejected the schools' motion for summary judgment, but he allowed the districts to appeal that issue to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. If the appeals court hadn't backed up PLANS' standing, there would be no point in having a trial.

April 30, 2000, The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said "The petition for permission to appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ß 1292(b) is denied." This clears the way for a new trial date to be set.


PLANS contends that public Waldorf schools are intrinsically and inseparably based upon a New Age occultic religion called Anthroposophy. Public Waldorf school curriculum decisions and teacher training are based on Anthroposophy's spiritually based child development model. Publicly funded use and reliance upon the doctrines of Anthroposophy impermissibly endorses that religion in violation of the United States and California constitutions. In the discovery phase of the lawsuit, PLANS presented evidence that religious beliefs and practices of Anthroposophy were present in both schools.

Here is an example from a teacher-training text purchased by the Sacramento public school:

"One of the secrets of the curriculum is that it does not move in accordance with earthly, linear time, which moves in one direction only, but rather pulses and breathes in a time-form that is inspired by the Akashic Record. For the children, this progression touches those organs--both physical and psychological--that are developing at each grade. For the teacher, this progression can be tantamount to the passage through the chambers of a Mystery Center. What we teach the children will help them incarnate firmly upon the earth; what we glean from the curriculum will help us cross the threshold into the spiritual world." [Schwartz, Eugene. The Waldorf Teacher's Survival Guide. Fair Oaks, CA: Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1992, p. 16]

PLANS was organized in late 1995 by former Waldorf parents and teachers concerned about both private and public Waldorf schools. PLANS forms an unlikely coalition around the Waldorf issue, uniting liberals and evangelical Christians, factions that disagree strongly on other topics. It became a California non-profit corporation in July 1997. PLANS' volunteer board includes two public school teachers, one of whom has received Waldorf teacher training, the president of a skeptical society, a retired Baptist pastor, the associate director of a Christian anti-cult ministry, and two former Waldorf parents. PLANS' President, Debra Snell, was a director of a private Waldorf school and helped found a Waldorf charter school. For more information, please see the PLANS web site, 

Scott M. Kendall, PLANS' attorney, maintains a private practice in the Sacramento area of California. He focuses a substantial part of his practice on issues involving religious liberty. This litigation is financially supported by volunteer directors of PLANS, has received underwriting from the Pacific Justice Institute of Sacramento, CA, and donations from the members of PLANS. Mr. Kendall may be contacted for further information regarding this litigation.

return to list