Education A National Roundup

U.S. Judge Schedules Trials in Challenge to Waldorf Schools

By Ann Bradley — April 12, 2005 1 min read

A federal judge in California has ruled that a lawsuit challenging the Waldorf education method used in schools in two public school districts will be divided into two phases.

U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. announced this month that he would hear arguments starting Sept. 12 on whether anthroposophy, the worldview that guides Waldorf education, is a religion. If so, the trial will proceed to whether publicly funded Waldorf schools in the Twin Ridges Elementary and Sacramento Unified school districts are permissible.

The lawsuits were filed by a group called PLANS, or People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools, a worldwide network of former Waldorf students, teachers, and parents who now challenge the philosophy and methods of the schools. The group argues that publicly funded Waldorf education is an impermissible government endorsement of religion.

The lawsuit, filed in 1998, challenges a “Waldorf method” magnet school in Sacramento and six “Waldorf-inspired” charter schools in the Twin Ridges district.

The case was dismissed by Judge Damrell in 2001 but reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in February 2003.