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D.A.R.E. America Tries to Shut Down NJ Chapter

At issue is a D.A.R.E. New Jersey drug education program for elementary schoolers that the national parent company says it did not sanction.

The New Jersey Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program won a preliminary court injunction barring national parent company, D.A.R.E. America, from revoking its charter over a disputed education program.

The preliminary injunction prevents the California-based nonprofit from revoking the charter of the New Jersey chapter New Jersey group or preventing the state group from using the D.A.R.E. name.

“We are very pleased with the swift action and favorable decision made by the courts to address this poignant matter,” said Nicholas DeMauro, chairman and CEO of D.A.R.E. New Jersey.

D.A.R.E. is a series of classroom lessons about drug abuse prevention taught to school children by local police officers. Instructors are required to undergo 80 hours of special training in child development, classroom management, teaching techniques and communication skills.

At issue is D.A.R.E. New Jersey's "Too Good for Drugs" program for fifth- and sixth-graders. D.A.R.E. America claims that D.A.R.E. New Jersey implemented the program without its consent—a problem because it says the success of the program is based on maintaining uniform curriculum.

Meanwhile, D.A.R.E. America has implemented its "Keepin' It REAL" substance use prevention program that the New Jersey chapter says is unproven in its effectiveness.

In a letter to D.A.R.E. America dated Nov. 15, 2012, DeMauro says that the new national curriculum being introducing has not been proven effective; the national program is charging the New Jersey chapter with the same thing.

Data-driven objections?

Several national organizations, including the U.S. General Accounting Office, the U.S. surgeon general, the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Education, have found that the effectiveness of D.A.R.E. programs in general to deter drug and alcohol use in children have not been successfully proven.

Richard G. Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, wrote an Oct. 11, 2011, letter to DeMauro stating as much. But "Keepin' It REAL" is on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices, while "Too Good for Drugs" is not, and that could affect funding.

To receive funding for its school programs under the New Jersey Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Program, the nonprofit must show that its teaching programs are effective in preventing substance abuse, D.A.R.E. New Jersey says.

According to the lawsuit, New Jersey implemented the "Too Good for Drugs" program at the start of the school year and called it "separate from D.A.R.E. America." D.A.R.E. America wrote a letter to the New Jersey chapter on Nov. 5 stating, "It is unacceptable and indeed outrageous that New Jersey would do this."

The New Jersey chapter of D.A.R.E. won a temporary restraining order against the revocation of its charter by D.A.R.E. America in a decision upheld Dec. 19 by a U.S. District Court in California. The case is scheduled for mediation in 2013.

“We stand by our actions and feel they were necessary to ensure the continuation of D.A.R.E. services, and drug resistance education and training to the children of our state,” DeMauro said.

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