STOCKTON (CBS13) — The Stockton Unified School District rejected Mayor Anthony Silva’s push for a new anti-drug program after discovering it has ties to the Church of Scientology, and that the mayor may have ignored the rules.
Silva calls it one of the most effective and widely used programs to combat teen drug use used by law enforcement and schools across the country.
It’s called The Truth About Drugs, and it’s produced and promoted by the Church of Scientology.
That’s leading the Stockton school district to just say no to the program.
The district says when the mayor approached them about the program a few weeks ago, they said they needed time to review it.
According to the Leon Williams, the Boys and Girls Club’s director of operations, staffers were trained on the program anyway by the Church of Scientology in a seminar on Nov. 9.
“They couldn’t go through the front door, so they went through the back door,” Williams said.
Then he said staffers were told by board chairman Sharon Simas—who also serves as the mayor’s chief of staff—to implement The Truth About Drugs in after-school programs, even though it hadn’t been approved by the district.
“And immediately tons of red flags went up,” Williams said. “I knew it was wrong, and I knew we had to go through the proper protocol.”
The Boys and Girls Club has a contract to provide after-school services for the district, but ultimately it’s the district that has the final say about what’s taught.
The superintendent wrote in a letter to the Boys and Girls Club, “However we have not approved, nor do we anticipate approving this program for use in our after-school classes … My previous experience with this program was very negative, because of outcry from the community.”
Allen Sawyer, the mayor’s political consultant says this isn’t about bringing religion into schools, but curbing drug use. He points out the materials say nothing about Scientology whatsoever.
“And look, the mayor is a Catholic,” Sawyer said. “He goes to prayer breakfast every week.”
But at least for now, Stockton students won’t be learning The Truth About Drugs from this program.
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