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Samohi Cancels Scientology-Sponsored Anti-Drug Program After Parents Freak Out About Scientology Affiliation

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Photo via Santa Monica High School/Facebook
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Santa Monica High School canceled an anti-drug program that was sorta sponsored by the Church of Scientology after parents freaked out over the, uh, Scientology connection. The Hollywood Reporter, who broke the story, reports that The Foundation for a Drug-Free World held three recent morning assemblies for ninth and tenth grade students and had substance abuse prevention lectures scheduled at the school. The foundation, which the Hollywood Reporter describes as "one of the religion's social-betterment initiatives," also held a workshop for 200-some Samohi parents on May 9, which is when word of the Scientology affiliation first began to spread. The school agreed to discontinue the program after a number of families voiced their discontent. CBS LA reports that the school has agreed not to host any more programs with the Scientology-backed group.

The Church of Scientology launched the Foundation for a Drug-Free World in October 2006, about a year after then-State Superintendent Jack O'Connell urged all California schools to drop their affiliation with Scientology's former anti-drug program Narconon, which a state evaluation concluded offered "inaccurate and unscientific information," according to SF Gate. The state evaluation found that the Narconon program "may also lead students to discredit the schools’ drug prevention program and distrust educators.” According to the controversial organization's website, Scientology is "a religion that offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one’s true spiritual nature and one’s relationship to self, family, groups, Mankind, all life forms, the material universe, the spiritual universe and the Supreme Being."

The Foundation for a Drug Free World has previously come under fire for their programming at New York City public schools (according to our friends at DNAinfo New York, the foundation presented at 30 city public schools in 2014).

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District spokeswoman Gail Pinsker told the Hollywood Reporter that the school’s principal, Dr. Antonio Shelton, “fully vetted this organization and felt that it would be excellent for our students,” adding that “the presentations and materials do not have any reference or mention of Scientology.” In fairness to Samohi, the word "Scientology" does not appear anywhere on the foundation's homepage, though a quick Google search pulls up plenty of results. And, according to the section about the foundation on Scientology's own website, "The Church of Scientology International Dissemination and Distribution Center in Los Angeles, California, stands at the heart of the global humanitarian initiatives supported by Churches of Scientology and Scientologists."

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“I think that the principal was doing what he thought was an informative program because the community has been concerned about some of these issues,” Sheila Spencer, a member of the PTA, told CBS LA. The school community has dealt with a number of drug-related incidents recently, including the death of a 15-year-old student who fell off a roof while on LSD.