Lawyer Suggests Appeal Of Narconon Decision
By Michael McNutt
August 19, 1992
The state mental health board may have acted improperly by exempting Narconon Chilocco New Life Center from certification, a lawyer for the Oklahoma State Health Department said Tuesday.
Because of questions about last week's decision by the Oklahoma Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the health department might not license Narconon Chilocco and could appeal the board's action, attorney Rob Cole said.
"I don't want the health department to violate state law as a result of the department of mental health taking an action which is not supported by state law," Cole said.
Mental health board members Friday granted an exemption from certification to Narconon Chilocco because the center was accredited in June by a private organization - the Commission for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.
"If they are exempted from certification, then they're not subject to licensure," Cole said. "The problem is that if they are exempted from certification based upon an improper action by the department of mental health, how that impacts the health department is a concern. "
The health department possibly could appeal, alleging that the board failed to comply with state laws, he said.
Cole said Narconon Chilocco likely would be allowed to continue to operate if there is an appeal.
"We don't want to place them in a catch-22," he said. "My inclination is to say that they would not be subject to licensure if they are exempted from certification. "
However, if the appeal were upheld, the state mental health board again would have to take up the certification issue, he said.
Mental health board members in December denied certification because it labeled Narconon Chilocco's treatment program unsafe and experimental.
Gary Smith, president of Narconon Chilocco, said he had no comment.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the board of the Indian agency that leases the grounds to Narconon Chilocco said Tuesday his tribe does not recognize the mental health board's latest action.
Delbert Cole, Ponca chairman, said Narconon Chilocco is violating its lease with the Chilocco Development Authority because it is required to get state certification.
He said the center's accreditation was based on the certification of a recently formed agency by the Tonkawa tribe, which has no power to regulate facilities on land owned by the five tribes that make up the Chilocco Development Authority.