Antidrug program with Scientology links to be investigated
SAN FRANCISCO - California's
schools superintendent has ordered an investigation into a school
antidrug program with ties to the Church of Scientology.
The popular program, called Narconon Drug Prevention and Education,
has been used by schools nationwide for the past two decades.
Hollywood-based Narconon has provided instruction in at least 20 school
districts in California, including San Francisco and Los Angeles. Many
teachers and students have praised the program.
But leading drug addiction experts say some of Narconon's medical
theories are irresponsible and have no basis in fact. For example, the
program teaches that drugs accumulate in body fat and can cause drug
cravings and flashbacks for years; that saunas can sweat drugs out of
the body; and that colored ooze is released when drugs leave the body.
Superintendent Jack O'Connell said he learned about the antidrug
program when the San Francisco Chronicle published articles in early
June that detailed links between Narconon's instruction and the Church
of Scientology's religious teachings.
O'Connell said Wednesday that the state's investigation could lead
to an order barring Narconon from providing instruction in California
"We have an obligation to inform school districts of potentially
inaccurate and misleading information being distributed," O'Connell
Narconon officials defended the scientific accuracy of its medical
claims. They acknowledge that Scientologists support the program and
that Narconon administrators and lecturers are scientologists. But they
insist the program is legally and financially separate from the Church
More than 5,400 students in San Francisco received Narconon
instruction last year, according to Narconon's promotional materials.
Last week, San Francisco schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman told
Narconon to revise parts of its curriculum by June 24 or be banned from
the district. Narconon officials said they are working to answer the
Los Angeles Unified is the largest school district in the state to
host Narconon education. A district spokeswoman said the program was
being reviewed by the district's health department, while the president
of the district's teachers union expressed concern.
"We're not interested in thinly disguised religion being put upon
the students," said John Perez said. "The schools are a secular
institution, and there has to be a wall of separation between religion
and public schools."