Ga. Officials Investigate Tutoring Firm’s Links To Scientology Church

Officials in Georgia are investigating a tutoring firm in Cobb County after receiving complaints that the company is tied to the Church of Scientology.

The firm, Applied Scholastics, says it offers secular tutoring, but four complaints have been lodged against the company, alleging that it relies on the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  

The Georgia Board of Education allows private companies to apply to appear on a list of tutors that parents can use if their children need extra help outside the classroom. Students must be attending a public school that failed to meet certain academic criteria as established by the federal government. Georgia education officials monitor the program, which is paid for with federal funds.

Critics have charged that Applied Scholastics’ program, which assigns a tutor to work one-on-one with a student to intensively study certain problematic concepts, mimics a Scientology practice known as “auditing.” In Scientology theology, new members are assigned an “auditor” who works with them to help them break down barriers to achievement.

Officials at Applied Scholastics say their program is secular.

“Our organization is not a religious organization,” Keri Lee, a spokeswoman, told the Journal-Constitution. “There is no connection to any church. We use Mr. Hubbard’s teachings, and we are really grateful for them.”

Applied Scholastics was granted a license to tutor in Georgia in 2006. The license lasts three years and is currently being evaluated for a possible extension of the contract. State officials said part of that will include visits with tutors and students to make sure no religion is being taught.

The firm offers tutoring in reading and math for students in the first through eighth grades. About 17 students in Cobb County are currently using the company, state officials reported. The firm has received about $11,300 in federal money over the past two years.

According to the Journal-Constitution, none of the four complaints received about Applied Scholastics came from a parent of a tutored student. One came from a woman who said she learned about the company’s work in Cobb County by surfing the World Wide Web.

Applied Scholastics was evaluated in Spring of 2007. At that time, evaluators said the firm met or exceeded requirements and reported no evidence of religious influences in the program.

The Web site of Applied Scholastics says in part, “Applied Scholastics does not promote or recommend any religious path…. It is a wholly secular technology for use by any person in any field.”

Elsewhere the site says, “The Church of Scientology and its members have been extremely assistive in the areas of support, volunteering and finance in order to help Applied Scholastics to achieve its purpose of providing strong and effective educational methods to any who thirst for knowledge throughout the world.”