PEOPLE FOR LEGAL AND NONSECTARIAN SCHOOLS, INC. (PLANS)
Debra Snell, President
12562 Rough and Ready Highway
Grass Valley, CA 95945
(530) 273-1005 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Dugan, Secretary
290 Napoleon St. Studio E
San Francisco, CA 94124
(415) 821-9776 email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, SEPTEMBER 5, 2010
CHURCH/STATE CHALLENGE TO PUBLIC WALDORF SCHOOLS STYMIED AGAIN AT SECOND TRIAL
HISTORY TO DATE
February 11, 1998, People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS) filed suit in federal court (the Eastern District of California, in Sacramento) against two California school districts, alleging that their publicly-funded Waldorf schools were religious programs in disguise.
In May, 2001, Judge Damrell dismissed the PLANS lawsuit against the two school districts, based on lack of standing. PLANS appealed the decision, and in February, 2003, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed PLANS' right to sue the school districts as taxpayers and reinstated the case.
At the September, 2005 trial, PLANS refused to present its case without key witnesses and evidence that Judge Frank C. Damrell had excluded based on his interpretation of federal court rules. This gave the judge no option but to dismiss the case.
PLANS contended that Damrell's rulings were incorrect, and appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. After a two-year wait, the appeal was heard November 9, 2007. The court reversed the decision of the district court (Case No. CV-98-0266 FCD PAN) and remanded the case back to that court.
A second trial began on August 30, 2010, again before Judge Damrell. PLANS was represented by D. Michael Bush, of Irvine, CA. Judge Damrell again refused to allow almost all of the evidence that PLANS offered, rejecting it as "hearsay" and "irrelevant." Dan Dugan, Secretary of PLANS, Inc. said "It was outrageous that the judge refused to admit any books by Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy, as evidence of the religious nature of Anthroposophy."
PLANS called Betty Staley, a well-known Anthroposophical author and a founder of Rudolf Steiner College, as a witness. Staley was evasive and, for example, said that Anthroposophists did not celebrate festivals. When asked if she had read Steiner's "The Festivals and Their Meaning," she was forced to admit that at least some Anthroposophists do celebrate four annual festivals. Staley testified that "Anthroposophy Worldwide," a newsletter from Anthroposophy's headquarters in Switzerland that prints the minutes of Anthroposophy's board meetings, did not represent Anthroposophy.
Judge Damrell invited the school district to make a motion for dismissal because PLANS had failed to make its case, and subsequently the case was dismissed. PLANS stated their intention to appeal. Debra Snell, President of PLANS, Inc., said "Our evidence shows conclusively that Anthroposophy is a religious activity, and that despite all promises it leaks into the public Waldorf school classrooms. We will not give up until this violation of the separation of church and state is stopped."
Anthroposophy is the spiritual movement behind the world-wide network of Waldorf schools. PLANS alleges that for Establishment Clause purposes, Anthroposophy is a religious sect. The defendants claim that it is a philosophy. This is a crucial issue in the case. If Anthroposophy isn't a religious activity, then PLANS can't allege that taxpayer-funded Waldorf schools violate the Constitution by being entangled with religion. Common references classify Anthroposophy as religious; for example, Encarta: "a religious philosophy developed by Rudolf Steiner from theosophy, holding that spiritual development should be humankind's foremost concern."
PLANS contends that public Waldorf schools are intrinsically and inseparably based on Anthroposophy. Curriculum decisions and teacher training are based on Anthroposophy's child development theory, which defines stages of reincarnation, a religious doctrine. Science teaching in Waldorf schools includes crackpot Anthroposophical doctrines like "the heart is not a pump." The framework for history in Waldorf schools is based on Anthroposophy's proto-Nazi racial theory. Publicly funded use and reliance on the doctrines of Anthroposophy endorses that religion in violation of the United States and California constitutions.
WHAT IS PLANS?
PLANS was organized in late 1995 by former Waldorf parents and teachers concerned about both private and public Waldorf schools. It became a California non-profit corporation in 1997. PLANS' mission is to provide parents, teachers, and school boards with views of Waldorf education from outside the cult of Rudolf Steiner, to expose the illegality of public funding for Waldorf school programs in the US, and to litigate against schools violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
For more information, please see the PLANS web site, http://www.waldorfcritics.org.
-Dan Dugan, Secretary
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