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PUBLIC WALDORF SCHOOLS CHURCH/STATE TRIAL ABORTED OVER EVIDENCE
ISSUE
 Dan Dugan
 Sep 14, 2005 20:53 PDT 

PEOPLE FOR LEGAL AND NONSECTARIAN SCHOOLS, INC. (PLANS)
http://www.waldorfcritics.org

Debra Snell, President
12562 Rough and Ready Highway
Grass Valley, CA 95945
(530) 273-1005 presi-@waldorfcritics.org

Lisa Ercolano, Vice President
220 Gaywood Road
Baltimore, MD 21212-1709
(410) 377-4204 vicepre-@waldorfcritics.org

Dan Dugan, Secretary
290 Napoleon St. Studio E
San Francisco, CA 94124
(415) 821-9776 secre-@waldorfcritics.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, SEPTEMBER 14, 2005

PUBLIC WALDORF SCHOOLS CHURCH/STATE TRIAL ABORTED OVER EVIDENCE ISSUE

In a move that shocked participants and observers in a Sacramento
federal courtroom during the opening of its September 12 trial,
People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS) refused to present
its case without key witnesses and evidence that had been excluded by
the the Hon. Frank C. Damrell. Judge Damrell said he intends to
dismiss the case.

As a result, PLANS will take its case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Two witnesses--Betty Staley, creator of the Rudolf Steiner College
public school teacher training program, and Dr. Crystal Olson, a
Steiner College staffer who teaches courses on music education--had
been listed as expert witnesses by the defendant school districts,
and as percipient witnesses by PLANS. In fact, PLANS' attorney, Scott
Kendall, had taken lengthy depositions from the two in 1999. However,
the defense team's three attorneys changed their minds and withdrew
both Staley and Olson's names from their list of expert witnesses
after reading each woman's testimony. (Presumably, the lawyers
recognized that the women's testimony would do the schools' case more
harm than good.)

Judge Damrell then accepted an objection from the defense, who
alleged that PLANS had not properly disclosed those witnesses
according to the federal court rule of "automatic disclosure" (rule
26a*). This rule requires parties in lawsuits to give all their
information about witnesses and evidence to the opposing party
immediately, without being asked. PLANS' attorney Scott Kendall
asserts that the rule does not apply in this case because it was not
in effect in this court in 1998, when this case originated.

"PLANS was unable to put on its case because of the court's
evidentiary rulings, which we believe to be both erroneous and
prejudicial," Kendall stated. "Therefore, PLANS is taking this case
to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals."

Debra Snell, President of PLANS, said "After seven and a half years
of dealing with legal technicalities, we expected that we'd finally
be able to have a trial of the real issues in court. We are
disappointed, but also more determined than ever to continue to press
our case, no matter what we have to overcome. Steiner's books--which
form the foundation of Waldorf education and the basis for Waldorf
school teacher training--are shelved in the spirituality section of
the bookstores, not the philosophy section! We have plenty of
evidence that Steiner's doctrines leak into the public Waldorf
schools that citizens pay taxes to support. If that's not a breach of
the Establishment Clause, I don't know what is."

The Administrative Director of the Anthroposophical Society in
America, Jean W. Yeager, attended the trial, despite the fact that
public Waldorf schools claim they have no connection with
Anthroposophy whatsoever. On February 4, 2004, Yeager intervened in a
Waldorf charter school application by writing to the Benecia,
California, school board, and the Anthroposophical Society submitted
an amicus curiae brief in the PLANS lawsuit.**

BACKGROUND

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.

Debra Snell, President of PLANS, commented "Anthroposophy is
considered a religion by scholars of comparative religion, and
reference books classify it as a religion."

PLANS contends that public Waldorf schools are intrinsically and
inseparably based upon Anthroposophy, an occultist sect that split
off from Theosophy in 1912. Curriculum decisions and teacher training
in public Waldorf schools 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.

PLANS filed its federal lawsuit in Sacramento on February 11, 1998,
naming as defendants the Sacramento Unified School District, which
operates a "Waldorf Methods" magnet school, and the Twin Ridges
Elementary School District, which has established six
"Waldorf-inspired" charter schools.

In May, 2001, Judge Damrell dismissed the PLANS lawsuit against 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.

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.

The PLANS volunteer board includes two public school teachers, one of
whom has received Waldorf teacher training; the former president of a
skeptical society; the founder of a Christian cult information
ministry, and two former Waldorf parents. 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,
http://www.waldorfcritics.org.

* For more about Rule 26a, see:
http://www.bostonbar.org/pub/bbj/bbj0506_04/practice_disclosure.htm
http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/Rule26.htm

** Full text of the Anthroposophical Society's brief:
http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/lawsuit/187%20AnthroposophicalSofA.pdf

-30-

-Dan Dugan, Secretary
PLANS, Inc.
	
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