Arguments to be heard in yoga case

Arguments to be heard in yoga case
A state appeals court panel will hear arguments next week in a group's appeal of the lower court's ruling over the yoga program in the Encinitas Union School District. File photo

ENCINITAS — A conservative rights group’s continued litigation against the Encinitas Union School District’s yoga program returns to court next week when a state appeals court panel will hear arguments in the group’s appeal of the lower court’s ruling.

The Fourth District Court of Appeal March 11 will hear oral arguments in Sedlock v. Baird, the case filed by the National Center for Law and Policy on behalf of the parents of two El Camino Creek students, who said the district’s yoga program endorsed Hindu religious beliefs promoted in Ashtanga yoga and indoctrinated students with those beliefs.

Superior Court Judge John Meyer, however, ruled in 2013 in favor of the school district and the group Yoga for Encinitas Students — known as YES — that the district’s program did not endorse one religion over another and did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s “establishment clause.”

The battle over the school district’s yoga program gained national attention as it pitted education officials with religious and conservative rights groups over whether the exercise program is appropriate for elementary school aged children.

The school district has argued that the yoga it teaches students has been stripped of its religious vestiges and is a vital part of the district’s health and wellness program. It has expanded the yoga program significantly in size after receiving a $1.3 million grant from the Sonima Foundation — previously known as the Jois Foundation — by increasing the number of yoga instructors from 10 to 18.

Dean Broyles, an attorney with the National Center, said the case will have implications across the country and mirrors a case currently before the Supreme Court in India, where justices there are hearing arguments in an appeal of a lower court’s ruling that teaching yoga in public classrooms discriminated against Christian and Muslim minorities.

The hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. in Division One of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, 750 B Street, Suite 300, San Diego.

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