The New York City school district's plan to provide anti-drug education to religious-school students at "neutral" sites has been rejected by Thomas Sobol, the state commissioner of education.
Mr. Sobol this month directed Chancellor Richard R. Green to propose by this week a new plan for providing the services on religious-school campuses.
In its application for funds under the Federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1986, the district had proposed spending the $739,035 available for religious-school students in 1988-89 for counseling and education programs at community centers and other non-campus locations.
School officials said the district was prohibited from providing on-site services by the U.S. Supreme Court's 1985 decision in Aguilar v. Felton, in which the court ruled that a public system could not use federal compensatory-education funds to place remedial teachers in religious schools. (See Education Week, March 29, 1989.)
Catholic and Hebrew educators filed ap6peals challenging the district's refusal to provide the anti-drug counseling in their schools. The proposed program, they argued, would not be equivalent to the services provided public-school students at their schools.
"The drug situation in New York City is at such a crisis level that we need to take extraordinary steps to ensure that drug-education programs are in place in all schools," said Linda Fisher, a spokesman for Mr. Sobol.
Melanie Radley, Mr. Green's special assistant for the press, said the matter was under review.
"Channel One," the news and advertising program aimed at high-school students, ended its seven-week test run last week at six schools across the country.
Whittle Communications, which developed the project, plans to evaluate the test before making a decision on whether to proceed with it on a national basis.
The program has drawn sharp criticism from a number of national education groups. (See Education Week, March 15, 1989.)