Students can 'opt out' of giving military their info
Bill Warrick
September 2006

Last week a local family submitted the paperwork required to protect the privacy rights of their teenaged child under No Child Left Behind. This paperwork was turned in at a Alachua County High School, but the school personnel had no idea what to do with it. They were as much in the dark about the law's requirements as are most families of students in Alachua County High Schools. Do you know about your teen's privacy rights under No Child Left Behind? Do you know that No Child Left Behind provides military recruiters with access to the contact information contained in school records of every teenager in High School unless the family provides an opt out form or letter to the school district?

The No Child Left Behind law also requires that the local school district provide this information to the public so they can make an informed choice about whether they wish their children's contact information released. Three board members, two of whom are up for reelection, opposed releasing a letter, which would have gone out to every high school parent and student explaining their privacy rights under the law. Instead they insisted on saving money by placing a notice in the back of the student Handbook. The opt out explanation, located in Appendix A of the Alachua County Code of student Conduct, page 35 of 42, does not explain clearly the reason that would require parents to submit it. Instead the explanation is mixed with other information on records and couched in obscure legal language.

Most people are aware that joining the military today, especially Army and Marines, can be a life and death decision. It is a decision for which our young people have the right to access all the facts so they can make the best choice both for themselves and for the military.

Unfortunately, just as parents are left in the dark about their students' rights to privacy, students who are being recruited do not always get all the facts about the situation they will be in if they choose to join the service. Because recruitment for fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is falling far behind, the government just announced that they will be calling Marines from the Inactive Ready Reserves back to duty. These are individuals who have served their active duty requirements, which included a series of deployments to war zones, and are now being asked to do more because there is a "National Emergency" with regards to recruiting. As you can imagine this situation puts tremendous pressure on recruiters to find more voluntary soldiers among our children. The military budget for recruiting has now increased to four billion dollars while our public schools have seen cuts in federal funds in spite of the increased demands on school budgets by the Federally mandated No Child Left Behind. This leaves our overworked school counselors the task of providing the balance required so a student considering the military knows what his or her other options actually are.

I think you can see from this scenario that the odds are against a student having all the facts to make a rational decision about joining the military. On the one hand we have young military recruiters with fancy cars who give money and supplies to clubs and classrooms and, in some of our low income schools, recruit students every day at lunch. The Pentagon reported they are spending 15,000 dollars for each recruit. On the other hand, we have overworked guidance counselors and parents who have been poorly informed because some school board members (including the two incumbents) chose to save money rather that give the public a thorough explanation of student's privacy rights. The result is bad both for the children who can make a wrong choice about joining the military and find themselves in a system they are totally unsuited for, and for the Military who has recently reported the number of AWOLs since the Iraq war began is approaching 10,000. Many of these AWOLs are basic trainees who should not have been there in the first place. Congress has recognized this problem and is considering changing the recruiting goals to reflect the number of recruits trained successfully rather that the number of warm bodies delivered to basic training.

What can parents and students do about this? You simply need to provide an opt out letter or fill out the form below and present it to your High School administrators. The deadline for 2006 is September 29th. This action will require guidance departments to protect the privacy of your child when other student records are released to recruiters. In addition, parents who think that having recruiters in school hallways on a daily basis is unreasonable can go to the school board and school administrations and ask that recruiter visits be limited to certain times just as is done for any other community group. Veterans for Peace is willing to provide training and support to any community group that would also like to help provide more balanced information about the choice between a military career and opportunities in civilian life. We have a legal right to provide an alternative view to students when recruiters are in the schools.

Unfortunately, there are several other ways that the military can access student records. One is through the ASVAB test which is presented as a career search tool but which is actually a recruiting tool. Again if a student chooses to take the test they have a right to opt out of releasing their information to recruiters by choosing option 8. Your entire school also has the right to choose option 8 so that all school information is automatically protected.

Finally, in the relentless search for more soldiers Donald Rumsfeld ordered the Pentagon to contract with a private company to produce a database of potential recruits. The contract with a private company to collect this data (approximately 30 million names of 16-30 year olds) is an apparent ploy to avoid the privacy laws which require that a government agency notify any group they are collecting information on if a data base is being produced. An easy way to opt out is provided on the "Leave My Child Alone" website at where you can generate a letter online to opt out your child for both your local school district and the Pentagon. The letter will be sent directly to your superintendent of schools and to the Pentagon. If you want to write directly to the Pentagon the address is: Joint Advertising and Marketing Research & Studies Office (JAMRS), Attention: Opt Out, 4040 North Fairfax Drive, Ste. 200, Arlington, VA 22203

Complete this form to exercise your federal right to privacy


I, ___________________________________ hereby exercise my federal right, granted to me by the Congress of the United States under Section 9528 of the Elementary* and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, (and any other applicable state, federal or local law or any school policy),and hereby request that the name, address, and telephone listing of ,

____________________________ (name of student), a current student at

_______________________________ (name of school), NOT be released to military recruiters without prior written parental consent. I do, however, consent to the disclosure of such information to institutions of higher education other than military schools. *This certificate does not apply to elementary schools

Signed by: ___ STUDENT ___ PARENT (Check One)

____________________________________________________________ signature/date

_____________________________________________________________ print name

_____________________________________________________________ address

_____________________________________________________________ city/state/zip

Note to students/parents: This certificate can be signed either by a student or a parent. A student does NOT need parental consent to submit this certificate. Any secondary school student, regardless of age, can sign this certificate and is authorized by law to submit this request. Parents can also sign this certificate for any secondary student. No information about elementary students will be disclosed to military recruiters. When completed, submit this form to the school's administration office.

Note to school administrators: You are required by federal law to comply with this request. It is a serious violation of federal law to disregard this request and release the name, address, or telephone listing of this student to any military recruiter without prior, written, parental consent. Sec. 9528(a)(2) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

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