SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, July 31, 2013 (Union Tribune): In a quiet Wednesday morning meeting that featured none of the fireworks of earlier hearings on the same subject, trustees in the Encinitas Union School District accepted a $1.4 million grant to expand a yoga program that had garnered national attention and sparked a lawsuit about religious freedom.
The yoga program had gained national media attention after parents who opposed the classes sued the district on grounds that they were based in religious and inappropriate for public schools. The lawsuit ended in July with a judge ruling in favor of the district.
The suit was filed by attorney Dean Broyles, who did not attend the Wednesday meeting but had strong words for the district through an e-mail sent later that day. "EUSD's decision today is really quite astounding for me as a constitutional attorney," wrote Broyles, president of the Escondido-based National Center for Law & Policy. Broyles has said he plans to appeal the decision handed down by Superior Court Judge John Meyer on July 1.
Superintendent Tom Baird said the new grant will increase the number of teachers from 10 to 18 and will pay to write part of the program's curriculum dealing with positive character traits. Two of the new positions will be for professional development, with one person training teachers in the physical activity and another training them in character development, a curriculum component already taught in other district classes, Baird said.
The original yoga classes were funded through a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation, named after Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who introduced to the United States a style of yoga known as Ashtanga.
The foundation, which earlier this year changed its name to the Sonima foundation, is funding a three-year study on the effects of yoga on students with a plan to create a free curriculum that someday will be available to all schools.