The Hicksville School District Administration and members of the school board have always been very protective of our students. In the past, student personal information was never released by the district to anyone without parental permission. This has now been changed.
Under Section 9528 of President George Bush's, No Child Left Behind Act , in order for any school district nationwide to receive money they must make available to the Defense Department the personal student directory information (including the name, address and telephone number) of all students, boys and girls, in the 11th and 12th grade in order that the students may be actively recruited to join one of the Armed Services before graduating from high school. The local recruiting office uses this personal student information to actively recruit with mailings, phone calls and home visits. The Defense Department relies very heavily on the Delayed Entry Program in high schools to reach its quotas.
In order not to have their name submitted, parents or the student must sign an "opt-out" form. If the signed "opt-out" form is not returned by a deadline date, it is assumed by the district that they have consented to include the student's name on the list being made available to the Defense Department.
Hicksville Superintendent of Schools Maureen Bright decided on personal notification by sending a letter to all 11th and 12th grade parents and students with an "opt-out" form explaining provision 9528. A general notification of this provision in the student handbook or other general notification method (school calendar, etc.) is permissible under this law.
At a recent school board policy committee meeting, I requested that the board include, in district policy, the requirement that individual letters must be mailed to parents and students in order to guarantee that the personal notification procedure is always followed. This personal notification letter should explain Section 9528 and include an "opt-out" form with the return date in order to remove their child's name from the list if they wish to do so.
If you agree with the need for such a policy please contact the school district, a school board member or your PTA and express your opinion. In my opinion, we have an obligation to safeguard our students from personal unsolicited contact by military recruiters. If students are interested in pursuing an honorable career in the military, they can visit the recruiter booth on Career Night or the local recruiting office on Old Country Road in Hicksville on their own initiative.
Helen M. Lafferty
(Editor's Note: The writer is a former member of the Hicksville Board of Education. For more information on the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and Sec. 9528. Armed Forces Recruiter Access to Students and Student Recruiting Information, visit www.ed.gov/legislation.)