News and Information on the PLANS trial
Background Two public school districts in California are the target of a lawsuit by a small, vocal anti-Waldorf group called PLANS (People for Legal and Non-Sectarian Schools), for operating Waldorf-methods charter schools, which is alleged to violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For details, see here and here.
 

October 19, 2005: Defendant school districts, Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) and Twin Ridges Elementary School District (TRESD), file bills of costs for this litigation totaling $22,550.
 

September 28, 2005: Judge Damrell rules that PLANS failed to carry its evidentiary burden of establishing that anthroposophy is a religion, that PLANS' only proffered evidence, the book The Waldorf Teacher's Survival Guide by Eugene Schwartz, found at one of the defendant's schools, is inadmissible for several reasons, and that because the issue whether anthroposophy is a religion is a threshold issue, PLANS' failure to satisfy its burden of proof disposes the action (case). Therefore, the Defendantsí motion for judgment is granted and it is adjudged that "Plaintiff take nothing, that the action be dismissed on the merits and that Defendants recover their costs." PLANS has 30 days from this ruling to appeal.
 

September 23, 2005: PLANS files objections to the exclusion witnesses and exhibits: "the defendants ... caused the court to exclude a series of percipient and material witnesses and exhibits", and claims that since PLANS did not put forward any evidence at the trial, "the court has no basis for making a factual finding that Anthroposophy is not a religion." One particular exhibit, the book The Waldorf Teacher's Survival Guide by Eugene Schwartz, "should shift the burden to the Defendants to explain that Waldorf education is not religious."
 

September 22, 2005: News story of the trial at Sacramento News and Review also gets a few facts wrong: "[PLANS] refused to make its case in front of U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell on the first day of trial, September 12". In fact, PLANS failed to make its case.
 

September 18, 2005: Rudolf Steiner College disputes PLANS' claims about the College's relationship to Dr. Crystal Olson, whose testimony was excluded in the trial, and the relevance of her testimony to the question whether anthroposophy is a religion.
 

September 17, 2005: News story of the trial at The Union gets a few significant facts wrong, "Waldorf opponents lose in court decision". The Union serves western Nevada County, CA.

Letter from the Anthroposophical Society in America in response, "Missing some points". "There were significant errors of fact in your article, 'Waldorf opponents lose in court decision.' "

Letter from Caleb Buckley of Yuba River Charter School in response, "The Waldorf method". "I was surprised to see quotes from the PLANS group since they have been deemed by a federal court to have no basis for their claims against our school."
 

September 16, 2005: Defendants file motion for final judgment that anthroposophy is not a religion and all other issues in the case are disposed under Rule 52(c).
 

September 15, 2005: Press release from Anthroposophical Society in America comments on the trial and the failure of PLANS "to prove that anthroposophy is a religion for establishment clause purposes"
 

September 14, 2005: PLANS announces that they will appeal the trial outcome: "PLANS was unable to put on its case because of the court's evidentiary rulings, which we believe to be both erroneous and prejudicial." 

An analysis and commentary on the PLANS press release: "PLANS Loses Waldorf Court Case, Lies About it in Press Release" by Daniel Hindes

Another commentary on the PLANS press release: by Linda Clemens: "This is so far fetched, I don't know why we're spending so much time, but I wanted to give you every opportunity," remarks Judge Damrell
 

September 13, 2005: Press release from the Yuba River Charter School comments "After seven years and over half a million dollars in tax payer money wasted, the PLANS attorney had to admit in court that he had no admissible evidence connecting Rudolf Steiner's philosophy of anthroposophy with a religion." Yuba River Charter School is one of the public Waldorf-methods charter schools named in the lawsuit.
 

September 12, 2005: According to a court observer, "In a full, free and fair trial lasting 30 minutes, the Plaintiff PLANS Inc failed to provide any admissible evidence that anthroposophy is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes." A motion by Defendants for Rule 52(c) dismissal is being drawn up and a ruling from the Court will be issued after September 29. The trial transcript is now available.
 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION


  • Two public school districts in California are the target of a lawsuit by PLANS, Inc. for operating Waldorf-methods charter schools, which is alleged to violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Details here and here.
  • PLANS, Inc is a small, vocal anti-Waldorf group located in San Francisco, CA. Details here
  • Background information on applying Waldorf methods in U.S. public schools, here.