Former Chicago Public School Pupils Sue Chicago Board of Education Over “Quiet Time” Indoctrination

Contact: Tom Ciesielka, 312.422.1333, tc@tcpr.net

(April 24, 2024 – Chicago) A petition for class action status by a former Chicago Public School student (Kaya Hudgins) who alleged that her school coerced her to participate in Transcendental Meditation (TM) and Hindu practices has been granted by a federal judge in a lawsuit against the Board of Education of the City of Chicago and the David Lynch Foundation.  Attorneys at Mauck & Baker, representing Kaya Hudgins, received an order from The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois awarding class certification to Hudgins and her peers. The class action lawsuit alleges that while minor students were attending certain Chicago Public Schools (who chose to participate in the David Lynch Foundation “Quiet Time” program), they were required to participate in Transcendental Meditation that incorporated Hindu religious rituals, which Hudgins claims on behalf of the class is an egregious violation of their constitutional rights. 

The design, implementation, and conduct of a Chicago Public Schools program, dubbed Quiet Time, was handled by the David Lynch Foundation for World Peace, an organization teaching Transcendental Meditation.  As alleged in Hudgins’ First Amended Complaint, the Foundation worked together with Chicago Public Schools and the University of Chicago to implement the program at Chicago Public School high schools.

Hudgins, by her own Declaration, was made to take part in Quiet Time.

“A Chicago Public Schools teacher told me and my entire class to sign a consent form to participate in Quiet Time,” Hudgins wrote. “My entire class and I signed the consent because we felt pressure to sign. Our teacher told us that we would get in trouble and be sent to the dean if we did not consent. The teacher also told us that not signing the consent would affect our academics. We also received the same kind of pressure to participate in the Quiet Time program on a regular basis.”

Hudgins was 16 years old at the time.

“Additionally, I, like many of my classmates, signed a nondisclosure not to tell anyone, including our parents, about the program,” added Hudgins. “My classmates and I were particularly warned by a David Lynch Foundation representative not to tell our parents if our parents were ‘religious.’”

“Not only were these minor school children coerced by Chicago Public School teacher into signing a document they had no business signing,” shared John Mauck, a partner at Mauck and Baker, “They were duped into practicing Hindu rituals and Transcendental Meditation during class time and instructed to hide their mandated participation in them from their parents.” 

Hudgins recalled being escorted into an uncomfortably private one-on-one Hindu “Puja” worship ceremony in a darkened room, with chanting and a variety of religious paraphernalia. During instruction about meditation the adult woman who was alone with her whispered a “mantra” into her ear and told Hudgins not to disclose the mantra to anyone. However, Hudgins revealed that she and her classmates discussed their mantras with each other.

“Eventually I researched on the internet many of our mantras and they turned out to be the names of Hindu gods,” reported Hudgins.  “My classmates and I were very hurt to learn how the school and the instructor had us participating in a religious practice without our knowledge.” 

Hudgins explained how the meditation sessions, a required part of the Quiet Time curriculum, “felt like hypnosis or being in a trance.”  Despite the fact that these situations felt “abnormal,” according to Hudgins, she took part because she was informed that not participating would negatively affect her grades and her academic record. 

Additionally, Hudgins recounted how students were rewarded with pizza for promoting Transcendental Meditation, which her instructor referred to as “following orders,” and how one friend was offered $100 by program coordinators to participate in promote Quiet Time.

“I complained a few times to my teacher about not wanting to participate in the Quiet Time program,” shared Hudgins.   “Once, my teacher sent me to the dean’s office because I was questioning why we had to participate in the program. I felt angry and hurt because the school did not care whether or not I wanted to participate.”

Now 21 years old, Hudgins has talked about the damaging effect that Transcendental Meditation had on her. At the time, she was a practicing Muslim and what the school was pushing on her contradicted her religious Islamic beliefs and caused her to question her Islamic beliefs particularly whenever they said that there was a different higher power than the god she believed in.

“This was extremely offensive and very confusing,” Hudgins intimated. “It made me feel guilty and sinful because Muslims are not to worship men.”

“As a Muslim, I was supposed to pray five times a day,” said Hudgins.  “Although the school made me take time away from class to practice in Transcendental Meditation, it would not allow me to take time away from class for those five daily prayers.”

Hudgins and her Mauck & Baker attorneys petitioned the court on her own behalf and for other students similarly situated, asking them to hold the Board of Education of the City of Chicago and the David Lynch Foundation accountable for deprivations of these students’ Constitutional rights.

District Judge Matthew Kennelly granted class action status for all students who participated in the Quiet Time program in Chicago Public Schools during the academic calendar for Fall 2015 through Spring 2019 and reached age eighteen on or after January 13, 2021.

In a similar case, former Chicago Public Schools student Mariyah Green, also represented by Mauck & Baker, received $150,000 in damages and legal fees in an agreed Offer of Judgment entered by the Northern District of Illinois on October 23, 2023. The monies were an agreed judgement in Green’s favor for alleged Constitutional violations of her rights by the Board of Education of the City of Chicago and the David Lynch Foundation, over mandated participation in Hindu rituals while attending a Chicago Public School. Green’s Complaint was brought to the court in February, 2023 in an effort to hold educators and program developers responsible for requiring participation in a disingenuously promoted program that violated her Christian beliefs.

Read the Memorandum Opinion and Order issued April 19, 2024, by District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly of the United States District Court – Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division granting class certification in Kaya Hudgins v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago et al., under the Establishment Clause claim, for all students who participated in the Quiet Time program in Chicago Public Schools during Chicago Public School’s academic calendars for Fall 2015 through Spring 2019, and reached age eighteen on or after January 13, 2021,  here [https://www.scribd.com/document/725965003/Kaya-Hudgins-v-Board-of-Education-City-of-Chicago-et-al-Memorandum-Opinion-and-Order-04-19-2024]. 

Read the First Amended Complaint in Kaya Hudgins v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago et al. as filed on February 3, 2023, by Mauck and Baker attorneys on behalf of Kaya Hudgins in United States District Court – Northern District of Illinois – Eastern Division here [https://www.scribd.com/document/725967561/Kaya-Hudgins-v-Board-of-Education-City-of-Chicago-et-al-First-Amended-Complaint]. 

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