An anti-drug program tied to Scientology reappeared in Bay Area classrooms this school year – including at Los Altos High School – after a decade-long absence.
Free classroom talks by Narconon made their way back into public high schools throughout the state almost a decade after the state Department of Education rejected the program for promoting phony science. Los Altos High hosted a Narconon presentation during the fall semester for a health class mostly serving 10th-graders.
According to Barry Groves, Mountain View Los Altos High School District Superintendent, a health teacher received a recommendation for Narconon’s free presentations and invited the group to speak to her class. Groves said that an assistant principal at the high school familiar with the program informed teachers that they shouldn’t invite Narconon back after learning of the talk.
Groves said the district follows a state-adopted health curriculum. Health courses cover illegal drug use, and teachers are given the freedom to invite speakers of their choice to cover the material.
Groves said that as of now, Narconon is banned from the district and will remain so unless the program receives clearance from the state. “When the state of California sends an advisory against it, I listen to the state,” he said.
Narconon claims its curriculum has been “carefully revised” over the past decade, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle this week. However, the Chronicle – which has covered the school program in depth since 2004 – still found scientific inaccuracies in the current information Narcanon presents to students. One example: That its sauna treatment removes drug residue from body fat.
According to the Narconon website, the program was founded in 1966 by William Benitez, a heroin addict who read a book by L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard is the founder of the Church of Scientology.
Hubbard developed a controversial cleansing process called the Purification Rundown that alleges to eliminate “drug residues and other toxins from the body’s fatty tissues,” according to scientology.org.
For more on this story, see the June 4 print edition of the Town Crier.