KMTG Attorneys' Prevail in Long Standing Federal Suit Over the Use of Waldorf Methods in Public Schools

Sacramento | November 11, 2010

On Friday, November 5, 2010, Judge Frank Damrell of the United States District Court, Eastern District of California, entered judgment in favor of Sacramento City Unified School District in a case originally filed in 1998. The KMTG litigation team included lead counsel Michelle L. Cannon, Diana D. Halpenny, Christian M. Keiner and Chelsea R. Olson. The case was brought by a taxpayer group who claim the use of Waldorf methods in public schools violates the United States Constitution's First Amendment prohibition against the establishment of religion. The plaintiffs claim that Waldorf methods stem from, and are inseparable from "Anthroposophy," which they claim is a religion. Anthroposophy and Waldorf education were both created by Austrian Rudolf Steiner in the 19th century. The parties have battled this issue for years, and a bench trial was held on August 31, 2010 on the threshold issue of whether anthroposophy is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes. The judge's written decision issued last week found that plaintiffs failed to prove that anthroposophy is a religion.

This is an important victory for public schools across California as increasing numbers of public schools incorporate Waldorf methods into their curriculum and instructional delivery. Without a finding that anthroposophy is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes, plaintiffs' claims that Waldorf methods are "religious" fail and cannot support a constitutional challenge.

The Sacramento Bee reported on the decision on November 6, 2010. To read the story, click here.

To view a copy of Judge Damrell's decision, please click on the PDF in the right column under "Related Resources."

If you have any questions about this case, please contact KMTG Education attorneys Michelle Cannon, Diana Halpenny or Chris Keiner | 916.321.4500