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Military recruiting in schools

By Katie Deska
News staff
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Still, at least one Oakland County school takes a completely different approach that appears it may be inconsistent with federal law.

"We do not give military recruiters personal information about our students," said Daniel Stevens, principal of Brandon High School. "Instead, we have our students opt in to have information released. If they show an interest or desire in the military, we will help put them in contact with recruiters."

Michigan Department of Education communications spokesman William DiSessa said, "We are not aware of any push-back, and have no position," regarding the military recruitment policies. DiSessa did not cite any school district that had formal complaints about recruitment practices.

Recognizing the inconsistencies in the way school districts across the nation are notifying students and parents as required by NCLB, the New York branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) put forth a Military Recruitment Model Policy. It calls for parents and students to be informed of the military recruitment policy on multiple occasions, through multiple avenues.

NYCLU's model policy, designed to protect students' privacy rights while properly executing the federal mandate states, in part, that "the recruiter policy of each school shall be distributed to students and explained in a letter mailed to parents in the first 30 days of each school year. The policy shall be made available to the public through the school office and displayed prominently on posters in the school, in the school handbook and where applicable, on the school's website. Moreover, the recruiter policy shall be distributed to students and parents upon enrollment at the school."

The policy also suggests that, "under no circumstances shall students and/or parents be required to submit opt out forms before November 30 of a given school year. No student information shall be released prior to the opt out deadline." To aide in public transparency, the policy recommends public reporting of the "number and percentage of students who opted out, the date(s) of receipt of request for student directory information by recruiters, and the date(s) that student information was disclosed to recruiters."

Darrell Dawsey, communications director for the Michigan branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, said around 2007, they "sent a letter to (Michigan) school districts advising them on best practices and student privacy, and had local branches that connected with students and their families to provide them with what their rights are and opt out forms. The ACLU of Michigan, we firmly believe that parents and children have every right to be notified and opt out of these programs. We think the policy should be amended to ensure that privacy rights are respected."

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