CHICAGO — A former Chicago Public Schools student received thousands of dollars in a settlement over her allegations she was forced to participate in rituals that violated her Christian beliefs, according to civil case documents in the U.S District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
In a settlement reached Monday, Mariyah Green received $150,000 as the result of a lawsuit alleging her constitutional rights had been violated by the Board of Education of the City of Chicago and the David Lynch Foundation over participation in what she described as a Hindu ritual while attending Bogan Computer Technical High School in Chicago’s Ashburn neighborhood.
According to a press release Wednesday, Green’s lawyers said they wanted to hold educators and program developers responsible for requiring participation in the promoted program that violated her Christian beliefs.
In response, the David Lynch Foundation issued a statement that read, in part, “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. The purpose of the offer was to compromise a dispute without any admission of wrongdoing and to control costs and expenses associated with protracted litigation.”
Green and other students participating in that portion of the program were required to engage in a Puja initiation rite, Mauck said.
“Transcendental Meditation has been learned by over 10 million people over the past 60 year,” said Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation. “It is not a religion, philosophy or a change in lifestyle.”
According to Mauck, students at Bogan Computer Technical High School who did not want to participate in the Quiet Time program were warned that their failure to participate could impact their grades and disqualify them from participating in their respective graduation ceremonies.
“On the second day of this training in Transcendental Meditation, Mariyah told the instructor that her knee was injured in order to avoid kneeling before the image of a man in a photograph on a table in the middle of the room, that she described as looking like Buddha,” Mauck said.
Green said she was told that her grades and that her eligibility to play basketball would be negatively affected if she did not participate in the Quiet Time program. As Green had transferred to Bogan specifically for its basketball program, she knew she had to get good grades to remain on the team.
According to Green, she felt that she was forced to participate in Quiet Time each day, as she was told that cooperation during Quiet Time would count towards her grades, and she did not want to be kicked off the basketball team for poor academics.
The statement from the David Lynch Foundation said the Quiet Time program “was part of a controlled study that was conducted and funded by the University of Chicago Crime Lab to examine and confirm the effects of evidence-based techniques, including the TM program, for reducing crime and violence in under-resourced schools in the CPS. … All Bogan High School students who participated in the Quiet Time program voluntarily chose to learn the meditation technique with their parent’s consent and were free to opt out of the program at any time with no negative consequences.”