Archive for Thursday, June 24, 2004

Students not opting to keep data from military recruiters

June 24, 2004

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Lawrence High School student Patrick Anderson, 17, says he knows military recruiters can access information about him.

But he doesn't care.

"For some people, it may be an issue," he said. "But it's not a big deal for me."

Anderson isn't alone.

In 2003, only 59 of 1,264 LHS students and parents took the necessary steps to opt out of a provision in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the National Defense Authorization Act. The laws allow military recruiters access to students' contact information.

Only 12 of 1,220 Free State High School students opted out of the provision.

School districts, by law, must inform parents and students about the laws and their rights. Districts also must provide parents and students the opportunity to prevent contact information being released, said Rodney Bieker, general counsel for the Kansas State Department of Education.

Lawrence public schools inform parents and students about the law along with information on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. LHS principal Steven Nilhas said the information was part of an enrollment packet.

Whether students and parents read through the information, Nilhas couldn't say.

"I hope they do," he said. "Obviously, those who know ahead of time and don't want to release information are going to be more aware. But we try to make sure we hit on the information again when they come in to enroll. It's probably not enough just to hope they read it. We have to make some effort to make sure they understand."

By law, the district only has to send out an annual notice. The district is following the law, Supt. Randy Weseman said.

He said some people didn't like the military recruitment provision being in the act when they first learned about it.

Bieker said for Kansas, releasing student information to military recruiters is nothing new. Kansas school districts, generally, provided student contact information to recruiters for 20 years, he said.

"People telling districts they don't want the information released to military recruiters -- that is fairly new," Bieker said.

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