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Anti-Drug Magazine Dropped in Dispute

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Officials of the Brevard County (Fla.) Public Schools have said that they will not use an anti-drug magazine produced by the Seventh-Day Adventists, after allegations that the church improperly solicited contributions for the publication by claiming that the funds would be used to assist schools in their drug-education programs.

The editors of Listen, a church publication, did not go through the appropriate channels to offer the magazine as an educational resource, said Chevon Bacchus, coordinator of community relations for the school system. But she added that contrary to local news reports, the publication has no religious connotations and the district "did not know of the church affiliation until after it was decided not to use the magazine."

Ron Davis, the church's publishing director, maintained that Listen representatives had contacted the school board. "We feel it's a misunderstanding and a lack of communication between the school superintendent and his principals," he said.

Collection barrels with messages asking residents to assist in a "community crusade against drugs" had been placed in restaurants throughout the area without official permission from the school district. The materials indicated that several local schools would be served through the contributions, but, according to Ms. Bacchus, those schools were never contacted. In fact, the money was going back to support Listen magazine.

Gary Swanson, the magazine's editor, said he was not aware that the collection barrels were being used. But according to Mr. Davis, the restaurant managers who agreed to install them were advised beforehand that the collected funds would be used to support the magazine.

"I'm not questioning the organization; I'm sure it's a fine organization," said Ms. Bacchus, "but I don't feel it's appropriate for them to collect money in the community when it is not going to the schools for drug-education programs."--jw

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