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Military Recruiting In Question At San Diego Campuses

— San Diego Unified is looking into allegations that military recruiters are collecting student information without the permission of parents and students.

Parents fill out forms every time they enroll their teenager in high school. One question asks parents if it is OK to give their child's information to military recruiters. Close to 30 students and parents say a computer-generated ‘Yes’ mark was already checked on their forms.

Rick Jahnkow, who is with the Education Not Arms Coalition, said that violates federal and state laws regarding individual student rights and privacy rights.

“The school district is making the decision for the parents to go ahead and release the information,” Jahnkow said. “That should be a decision really left to [parents] and the students. In fact, the law says the parents and students can opt out. So the form is preempting their opt-out right.”

Jahnkow is pleased the district is finally investigating, but said the forms are just one example of the lack of district oversight regarding military recruiting on campuses.

He said there are other allegations of military recruiters confronting students in hallways and collecting information in gym classes.

“These sorts of things are happening without any kind of parental knowledge,” Jahnkow said. “In some cases they're in violation of federal and state laws regarding student privacy. We're just concerned about this whole range of aggressive recruiting that is going on.”

For their part, the San Diego Unified school trustees have pledged to get to the bottom of the student information issue. The board ordered district staffers to investigate the matter. A report on how military recruiters are collecting student information is expected next week. In the meantime, the district will stop giving information to the military.

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