Plaintiffs Attorney launches a crowd justice funding campaign to help his clients pay for expert witness

Please donate to our crowd justice campaign.  We need to raise $10,000 to pay for an expert witness to help us win at trial.  This case is important for all Americans and it addresses an important issue. 

We are an education law firm in San Francisco California. My clients are of modest means but want to take this case to trial due to the principle involved.

ABOUT THE CASE

Christian family brings lawsuit against CA school over religion

This case is about a lawsuit brought by a Christian family under the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States constitution challenging the practices of a teacher in a California school district which included meditation with religious music and mantras and breathing techniques, and an experiment about praying to water.

The First Amendment enshrines the separation of church and state and forbids religious practices from being established in a public setting. This protects all religious faiths, and also those who believe in no religion. This lawsuit is brought by a middle-class Christian family in Thousand Oaks California over Eastern-based religious practices in their daughter’s fourth grade classroom that grew concerning and ultimately alarming to them.  

Because this lawsuit involves a minor, we must protect her identity, and therefore will not be referring to her by name.  

Imagine your 4th grade daughter coming home from school, and to your surprise, she has memorized a verse of one of the primary texts of a religion other than your own. The verse she memorized, and was able to sing to her father who recorded it, was from the “Gayatri Mantra,” one of the most important mantras in the Vedic and then Hindu religions.  For an example of the mantra, review this video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SarlTxrAbIY

Upon questioning his daughter, the father learned that the Gayatri mantra was played frequently in the classroom during a daily 11-minute meditation period that included breathing techniques. Although the mantra itself is in another language, the basis of the mantra is that its power supposedly arises from it tonal or sound vibrations. The mantra is clearly religious in nature. 

On top of this meditation to music using a religious mantra, the teacher introduced the students to the teachings of a Dr. Emoto, who claims that positive and negative thoughts can influence the structure of water.  Positive thoughts, which Dr. Emoto calls “prayer,” allegedly have a certain effect on water, causing it to crystallize. Negative thoughts allegedly have a detrimental impact.  

The teacher in our case, after showing the students a video and reading from books about the “Secret of Water” then had the students prepare two containers with rice and water.  One container was given positive thoughts, or “prayer” as our client believed she was doing, and the other container was to be given negative thoughts. The students were to do this over a period of weeks and then observe the results. The teacher claimed this was a scientific experiment, although no “control” was used, in other words, a container that was given neither positive nor negative thoughts. Our clients, once learning of the “experiment” and reading about Dr. Emoto were obviously deeply concerned on how this idea that one could affect water simply by praying to it interfered with their Christian beliefs.  Dr. Emoto stated in his book that he hoped to “convey the power of prayer.”

My clients are bringing this lawsuit for the purpose of underscoring the importance of the First Amendment’s establishment clause which forbids religious practices from the classroom.  

Any money contributed will be used to pay for an expert witness in religion to discuss the significance of the Gayatri mantra, and the other practices in dispute, along with trial expenses and attorneys’ fees to bring the matter to trial for a full hearing of these issues.

-By Jay Jambeck

“The Strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it”.  – Albert Einstein

We are an education law firm.

Abbott vs. CVUSD case schedule affected by the Woolsey Fire in Thousand Oaks, CA

Photo by Woolsey Fire Photo by Patmcgrath308
Photo by Patmcgrath308

Earlier in the month depositions had began for witnesses in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Western Division case Abbott vs. CVUSD et al.  Then on Friday, November 9, 2018 depositions were suspended as both the Plaintiffs and Defendants in the case were evacuated during the Woolsey and Malibu Fires that threatened parts of Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park.

Plaintiff’s Dad, Mark Abbott has this to say about the situation. ” The absolute devastation that has occurred over the past few weeks throughout our State and our community is extremely disheartening.  Friends and families and neighbors all around us have lost everything. My family was lucky, we got out during the evacuation with our important photos and documents, and then our condo survived and we were able to come home after a few days. But many others were not so lucky. I share a wall with my neighbor, he opened up his home to a recently divorced woman who lost everything. Right now I’m not even thinking about this case, It’s hard to prioritize anything other than protecting your family and your home.”

All remaining depositions were re-scheduled for later in the month.  The Mandatory Settlement Mediation Hearing was also pushed to December 12. 

The woolsey fire’s affect on the case’s schedule, along with the upcoming holiday season, present some challenges for all parties to the case, as the trial date quickly approaches in just a couple months.  The Jury Trial is currently calendared to begin on Tuesday, February 19th, 2019. 

Abbott vs CVUSD et al., California case Removed to U.S. District Court

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 the Defendants’ Attorneys in Abbott vs CVUSD et al. filed a Notice of Removal of Action for Trial of the case under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government.  The case was initially filed just before the Notice of Removal on the same day.  Below is the Notice of Removal of Action. 

If you are using a mobile device, you can access the document here

Ventura County Parents file lawsuit against CVUSD, alleging violations of Unruh Civil Rights Act

Is Religion finding it’s way into Public Schools?

On Tuesday, July 11, 2017 Attorney’s representing the Parents of a 4th Grade Student enrolled at EARTHS Magnet Elementry School, located in Newbury Park, California filed a Complaint for Damages and Injunctive Relief on behalf of the minor.  The Complaint, that was filed in California Superior Court in and for Ventura County, summarizes allegations pertaining to all causes of action including: Violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act; Negligent Training and Supervision; and Violation of 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983.  The full complaint as a public record is available for review below.

The lawsuit names Conejo Valley Unified School District; and Jeff Rickert, as an individual; and Lisa LaMontagne, as an individual. Mr. Rickert is the School Principal at EARTHS Magnet and Ms. LaMontagne is a veteran 4th Grade teacher at the School.  Both individuals have been employed with CVUSD for several years.  

E.A.R.T.H.S is an acronym that stands for Environmental Academy of Research Technology & eartH Sciences.  EARTHS is a Magnet School for K-5 students.

The parents bringing the lawsuit are Mark Abbott and Christina Abbott,  Their family has lived in the Thousand Oaks community for over 10 years and they have established the area as their home.   As an incoming 4th grader, they transferred their child from Medronรฃ Elementry School, in order to take advantage of the appealing Science based curriculum that EARTHS offers and also to facilitate better convenient morning drop offs.  

Below is a copy of the Complaint that is public record. 

If you’re using a mobile device, you can access the document here.

Conejo Valley Unified School District Responds to Parent’s Uniform Complaint

Thousand Oaks, Monday June, 27, 2016, CVUSD Administrators release findings of their investigation into allegations of religious indoctrination against EARTHS Magnet Elementry School’s 4th Grade teacher, Ms. LaMontagne. 

According to the UCP Findings, CVUSD Deputy Superintendent, Instructional Services, Mr. Robert Iezza states “Ms. LaMontagne also admitted that she shared teachings of Mr. Emoto with the class in connection with a rice water experiment.  It is undisputed that Ms. LaMontagne taught students yoga and had students meditate in class during the 2015-2016 school year. — Ms. LaMontagne stated that she used meditation to reduce student’s stress.  — Ms. Lamontagne stated that her students would meditate each day when they came into the classroom from lunch, and she played music with no lyrics in English during this time because she did not want the kids singing along.”

 Even though Mr. Iezza presents admissions that arguably sustain several of the parent’s claims, his conclusions deny any wrongdoing by neither the District and School’s Principle, Mr. Rickert, nor Ms. LaMontagne.

Mr. Iezza goes on to conclude: “Ms. LaMontagne’s use of the rice experiment, Mr. Emoto’s teachings, meditation, and Yoga were done for a secular purpose.  Additionally, we find no evidence that Ms. LaMontagne’s rice experiment lessons and use of Yoga or mediation in class advance or inhibited a religion from an “objective standard.” Thus, allegation 1 is not sustained.”

In addition to the Uniform Complaint Investigative Findings, there are exhibit correspondence documents in the form of emails and letters contained within the Redacted Uniform Complaint Findings document that is available to read below. The UCP Complaint, UCP Findings and identified exhibits are public record. 

If you’re using a mobile device, you can access the document here.

Thousand Oaks, Alarmed Parents File Uniform Complaint with Conejo Valley Unified School District – Claiming Religious Indoctrination

On Friday, May 27, 2016 Ventura County parents lodged a complaint according to CVUSD UCP guidelines.  The complaint, which is a matter of public record, was delivered to the CVUSD administrative office after the parents of a 9 year old 4th grader discovered a pattern of spiritual inculcation amidst a comprehensive curriculum developed by their child’s Public School Teacher, Ms. LaMontagne.  Ms. LaMontagne teaches 4th Grade at EARTHS Magnet Elementry School

The details of the parent’s allegations are outlined in their UCP complaint that is available to view below.  According to the CVUSD’s Uniform Complaint Procedures, the School District has 30 days to investigate the parent’s complaints and present their findings.  The UCP Complaint was filed just a few weeks before the end of the 2015-2016 school year. Therefore, the District’s findings will not be available until after the summer break begins.  According to Mr. Abbott, the student’s father, the School District Administration decided against notifying other parents about the complaint because there will be no administrative staff available during the summer break to handle other complaints by parents.  

If you’re using a mobil device, you can access the document here.

California 4th Grader memorizes the Gayatri Mantra while meditating daily in her classroom

Meditation in the classroom is evolving

Imagine your 9 year old daughter coming home from school, and to your surprise, she has memorized a verse of one of the primary texts of a religion other than your own. The verse she memorized, and was able to sing to her father who recorded it, was from the “Gayatri Mantra,” one of the most important mantras in the Vedic and then Hindu religions.

Upon questioning his daughter, the father learned that the “Gayatri mantra” was played frequently in the classroom during a daily 11-minute meditation period that included breathing techniques. Although the mantra itself is in another language, the basis of the mantra is that its power supposedly arises from its tonal or sound vibrations. The mantra is clearly religious in nature.

Listen to the audio recording of a 9 year old singing the Gayatri Mantra

By Jay T. Jambeck

We are an education law firm in San Francisco California.

California Teacher streams a Gaia produced metaphysical documentary “Secret of Water” in her 4th Grade classroom

On May 23 and May 24, 2016 Ms. LaMontagne, a California Public School Teacher, used her personal subscription account with Gaia, (formerly known as Gaiam TV), to stream a metaphysical documentary called Secret of Water.”  The film she presented to her 4th grade students served as supplemental instructional materials used to reinforce her previous lessons about Dr. Masaru Emoto and what is known as the ‘Emoto Rice Experiment’.  Ms. LaMontagne has  developed her curriculum using a variety of Dr. Emoto’s published works as part of her science energy unit.  

According to the company’s website, Gaia “offer[s] the largest resource of consciousness-expanding videos”; with over 8,000 videos including original Gaia content. 

The film “Secret of Water” was produced by Gaia and released for streaming exclusively on the Gaia streaming website on May 7, 2015. Film Critic, Ken Jaworowski, gave the film a scathing review in a New York Times article dated March 19, 2015. 

“Secret of Water” was based on Dr. Masaru Emoto’s controversial research and publications about his theories on creating clean living water by channeling positive prayer, positive thoughts, and positive metaphysical energy to the water. Wikipedia describes: “Emoto’s conjecture evolved over the years, and his early work revolved around pseudoscientific hypotheses that water could react to positive thoughts and words and that polluted water could be cleaned through prayer and positive visualization”.

The class presentation of the film, alarmed at least one student’s parents who felt like the film, and the teachings about Dr. Emoto, were inappropriate for Elementry school-aged children because of the spiritual and religious nature of the materials.  The parents went on to file a formal complaint under the Conejo Valley Unified School District’s UCP (Uniform Complaint Procedure).  You can read the parent’s UCP Complaint as well as the CVUSD UCP Investigative Findings among the posts on this website. 

4th Grade Teacher introduces Spiritual Leader – Dr. Masaru Emoto

Living Water

[During the 2015-2016 school year] The teacher introduced the students to the teachings of a Dr. Emoto, who claims that positive and negative thoughts can influence the structure of water.  Positive thoughts, which Dr. Emoto calls “prayer,” allegedly have a certain effect on water, causing it to crystallize. Negative thoughts allegedly have a detrimental impact.  

The teacher, after showing the students a video and reading from books about the “Secret of Water,” then had the students prepare two containers with rice and water.  One container was given positive thoughts, or “prayer” as our client believed she was doing, and the other container was to be given negative thoughts. The students were to do this over a period of weeks and then observe the results. The teacher claimed this was a scientific experiment, although no “control” was used, in other words, a container that was given neither positive nor negative thoughts. Our clients, once learning of the “experiment” and reading about Dr. Emoto were obviously deeply concerned on how this idea that one could affect water simply by praying to it interfered with their Christian beliefs.  Dr. Emoto stated in his book that he hoped to “convey the power of prayer.”         

          By Jay T. Jambeck

We are an education law firm in San Francisco California.