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.
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. § 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 Medronã 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
[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