A former Chicago Public Schools (CPS) student recently secured a $150,000 court ruling for claims of being forced to participate in a perceived "Hinduistic rituals" program that breached their constitutional religious rights. The contentious program is called Quiet Time, a meditation initiative created by the David Lynch Foundation, designed to lower stress levels and enhance student mental well-being, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.
A Quiet Time program is not new to criticisms and legal disputes. Despite a CPS spokesperson stating in 2020 that the program was removed from schools and did not infringe on student's constitutional rights, the recent ruling is reigniting discussions about the appropriateness of educational institutes introducing similar programs and their mandatory or optional status for students, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Mariyah Green, the plaintiff, and former Bogan High School student, claimed to have been coerced into participating in Quiet Time, which conflicted with her Christian beliefs. As per the program's requirement, students had to participate in a ceremony termed "Puja," which according to Green's attorney, John Mauck, resembles a recognition of power owned by different Hindu deities and an invitation for those deities to channel their powers. Green was informed that the program participation would affect her grades and her ability to play basketball for the school team, the primary reason for her transfer to the school as per WGN-TV.
The David Lynch Foundation issued a statement post the court ruling, emphasizing,, “The settlement has no precedential legal effect, contains no findings based upon any evidence presented, and involves no finding of liability by the Court against or by any party." as detailed by WGN-TV. The foundation's website explains that the Quiet Time program aims to reduce participants' stress levels, leading to boosted graduation ratios and a slump in school suspensions.