Who is Dr. Crystal Olson?
Information on the PLANS trial
PLANS Inc issued a press release on September 14, 2005 claiming a key witness, Dr. Crystal Olson, had been erroneously and prejudicially excluded from testimony by Federal District Judge Frank C. Damrell:
"... Dr. Crystal Olson, a [Rudolf] Steiner College staffer who teaches courses on music education--had been listed as [one of the] expert witnesses by the defendant school districts, and as percipient witnesses by PLANS. In fact, PLANS' attorney, Scott Kendall, had taken lengthy depositions from the two in 1999."
Judge Damrell accepted Defendants' objection to this witness on the grounds that PLANS had not properly disclosed Dr. Olson (and another witness, Betty Staley), according to court Rule 26a requiring "automatic disclosure", i.e. to disclose all witnesses and evidence immediately, without being asked.

According to the trial transcript, Plaintiff attorney Scott Kendall admitted that, without the inclusion of the two witnesses, PLANS would not be able to prove that anthroposophy is a religion:

"The only witnesses that we would have been able to offer with regard to this question of anthroposophy -- I worked on alternative ways of doing it -- would be Betty Staley, who we think is a material, relevant, [percipient] witness, and Dr. Olson. You've excluded both of those on the grounds I did not disclose them. I don't think that's the case, but that is the Court's order. Without those witnesses, I don't believe we'll be able to sustain our burden of proof."
Thus, the Plaintiff's argument for the crucial first question of the case, whether anthroposophy is a religion, rested in part on the testimony of Dr. Crystal Olson. Again from the transcript, Mr. Kendall asserts:
"Those witnesses are absolutely critical, and given the Court's position with regard to that, we had alternatives we were working with to try to put the evidence before the Court, but I don't believe it's possible to do it and would be wasting the Court's time to do it without those witnesses."
Mr. Kendall then argues that rather than rely on experts who might render an expert opinion,
"What the Court must do in order to determine the issue of whether something is a religion, the Court has to look beyond expert opinion and has to look to the actual evidence, the underlying evidence and make the call. We agree with that position, which is why we decided to go with Betty Staley and Dr. Olson ..."  (emphasis added)
So who is Dr. Olson? Can she provide percipient testimony, from her direct experience, that anthroposophy is a religion? 

PLANS claims that Dr. Olson is a staff member of the Rudolf Steiner College who teaches courses on music education. 

But that is in dispute.

Letter from Rudolf Steiner College, September 18, 2005

FROM: Arline Monks, Rudolf Steiner College (916-961-3932)

Email Arline Monks at steinercollege.edu


September 18, 2005 

Contrary to a statement in the PLANS press release, Crystal Olson is not a Rudolf Steiner College staffer, and does not teach music at RSC. She has taught only one class at RSC—a class given more than six years ago on the History of U.S. Public Education for a summer session of the RSC Master of Arts in Education program.

Crystal Olson, Ed. D., is Assistant Professor of Education at California State University Sacramento, where she has been teaching for the past twelve years. Prior to this time, she served as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Sacramento County Office of Education. 

During her years as a member of the CSUS Teacher Education faculty, she has been publicly commended by the CSUS College of Education for bridging public education and Waldorf education. She has made opportunities available to CSUS students to experience Waldorf approaches, particularly the integration of the arts in the academic curriculum. Dr. Olson co-directs a CSUS Master of Arts in Education in Curriculum and Instruction for which the RSC summer institute, The Waldorf Approach Applied in the Public School Classroom, has been a recommended elective for six years. 

In regard to the PLANS lawsuit against the two school districts, Dr. Olson was deposed as a defense witness, but then later removed from the witness list. She has no knowledge of anthroposophy and could never be considered an expert witness on that subject. 

We demand retraction of the erroneous statement in the PLANS press release, and in all other subsequent communications, regarding Dr. Olson, with acknowledgment of the erroneous nature of the information previously presented.