Drug curriculum gets
a negative evaluation

A program that wants to help
local schools is criticized for
offering inaccurate information

A drug prevention program interested in helping students at Hawaii's public schools received a negative evaluation by a California organization yesterday.

An evaluation led by the California Healthy Kids Resource Center reports that Narconon Drug Abuse and Prevention Program's curriculum offers inaccurate and unscientific information. The report was posted yesterday on the California Department of Education's Web site.

"We'll get a letter out to every school district today, saying this program is filled with inaccuracies and does not reflect widespread medical and factual evidence," said California Superintendent Jack O'Connell yesterday.

Some of the organization's findings include:

» Narconon's program is often inconsistent with research-based practice.
» Narconon's presentations are lecture-oriented and provide limited opportunities for student interaction.

O'Connell opened the independent evaluation after the San Francisco Chronicle reported in June that Narconon taught some beliefs and methods of Scientology to students without their knowledge. The Chronicle reported that Narconon taught that drug residues remain indefinitely in body fat, causing people to experience repeated flashbacks and cravings -- a belief also held by the Church of Scientology.

The Narconon program has ties to the Church of Scientology.

Narconon held a presentation a few months ago on Oahu at a health education conference. Officials with Narconon are continuing to meet with officials of the Hawaii Department of Education as well as other agencies and organizations.

The program is also interested in establishing two rehabilitation centers on Oahu.

Kendyl Ko, educational specialist of Safe and Drug-Free Schools of the state Department of Education, has met with Clark Carr, president of Narconon International, based in Hollywood.

Ko said earlier that he had contacted officials at the California Department of Education to learn more about Narconon and was awaiting the completion of the evaluation. He could not be reached yesterday for comment on the evaluation.

Deputy Superintendent Clayton Fujie said he has yet to see the report.

"We're interested in any program that will help our kids," said Fujie. He noted that they are reviewing material provided to them by Narconon: "We need to be sure that this is good for our kids before we do anything."

Carr said: "The truth is our program has been in California for 30 years. We're not going away."

"We stand firmly behind what we say," Carr said, noting that there is extensive science to support their curriculum and that they provide a valuable service to students.

"We're needed and wanted by hundreds and hundreds of schools," Carr said. "We will stay in communication and help clarify inaccuracies and misinterpretations and confusion.

"(The) prevention programs are not based on Scientology methods," Carr said.

Narconon's curriculum has been revised.

San Francisco and Los Angeles schools banned Narconon after the reports appeared.

The evaluation is available on the California Department of Education's Web site at www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/at/narcononevaluation.asp.

The Associated Press and San Francisco Chronicle contributed to this report.

Narconon Drug Abuse and Prevention Program
California Healthy Kids Resource Center

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