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Parent sued by teacher for calling classes "occultic"

By Editorial Staff
Published January 2, 1988

WASHINGTON, D.C. (FR) —The mother of a 6th grade student was sued for slander by a Colorado school teacher for calling curriculum “occultic.” Sandy Montoya was one of three parents who complained to the Adams County, Colorado, School District Number 123, about what their children were being taught.

The parents told school officials that their children were taught about firewalking, guided imagery, color healing, and touch therapy. They said they thought the curriculum was “occultic” and dangerous, especially if their children tried firewalking at home.

According to the parent’s reports, the teacher told students her experience of walking barefoot across hot coals and not burning her feet. For color healing, she discussed the practice of mentally identifying pain and illness by color, weight and size, in an attempt to rid the body of pain.

She explained touch therapy as being similar to acupuncture, but using external hand and finger pressure rather than needles to relieve pain or sickness.

The teacher called the parent’s criticism “slander,” and filed suit. She won a settlement of $110,500, and Sandy Montoya had to pay $27,500 of the judgment.

Montoya recently filed an appeal before the Colorado Court of Appeals. If the decision is upheld, her attorney Jordan Lorence, said, “It would be ominous, because it could chill all parental criticism of the public school system.” Lorence is the assistant general counsel for Concerned Women of America. “This case sends a message to parents, ‘if parents criticize the public school system, they’ll get sued,’” he said.

Lorence said the case was setting dangerous precedent because it meant that if a parent decided to censure the public school system they could get sued. “Our basic argument is that parents have the constitutional right to criticize public schools and should have the absolute right to do so,” he said.

According to traditional American jurisprudence, he said, the parents control education of their children and delegate the authority to the schools. “If what the school teaches is objectionable, they should have an absolute right to criticize.”

These kind of cases are coming up, he added, “because we’re seeing an increasing paganization and a declining of Christian values in our public schools.”

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