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Toledo Board of Education President Vows to Restrict Military Recruiters

Toledo Parent Comment: Although this article starts out by stating we are in praise of Toledo Public Schools, we were not at a Policy committee meeting yesterday to praise. We told them that it was good that they do not have a JROTC program in any school (there are 64 JROTC programs in school buildings in Ohio with more to come.) They told us they do not administer the ASVAB and we said that was good.

But the recruiters access is astonishing and knowing that we were raising serious concerns here about military receiving the contact info on students, they have already released the names. There is no time deadline in the law when those names should be released.

Of the last 14 US deaths in Iraq, 12 of them have been people age 21 or under.

by Ignazio Messina

Toledo Board of Education President Larry Sykes promises to limit the way military recruiters operate in the district's buildings.

Nearly a dozen people, who have formed a community group called the Student and Family Rights and Privacy Committee, praised efforts by Toledo Public Schools officials to curtail military recruiting and inform students and parents of their rights, but they also urged the district to do more.

Mr. Sykes was adamant yesterday after the 90-minute meeting that "things would change."

He said the school board this month would examine a policy that streamlines how recruiters can operate at all of the district's eight high schools, as well as eliminating the use of military vehicles such as Humvees during school events.

A provision of the No Child Left Behind Act requires high schools to give military recruiters student phone numbers and addresses unless a parent files a written request to "opt out."

The law also requires that military recruiters be given the same access as college recruiters. The provision applies to all public and private schools that receive federal funding. Schools that do not comply risk losing their funding.

"We are going to make sure the district is giving recruiters access, but that it is somewhat limited and they are not running up and down the hallway, pulling kids out of class," Mr. Sykes said.

The Blade reported Sunday that 221 Toledo Public Schools high school students had exercised that right and personal information on the remaining 8,847 high school students had been provided to the different branches of the military.

Some districts, including Toledo Public, Maumee, and Sylvania, this year highlighted the opt-out option in brochures or letters sent to families.

Peggy Daly-Masternak, co-chair of the citizens privacy committee that approached the board, said the district needs to do more than placing a notice in high school handbooks.

As the death toll climbs in Iraq, Ms. Daly-Masternak said there are heightened concerns that students do not receive accurate information about what recruitment entails.

"I do understand that they are required to provide same access, so holding them rigidly to that is the best option," she said.

Lisa Geha-Ziegler, a mother of three sons in Washington Local Schools, said recruiters used to roam the halls at Whitmer High School and aggressively recruit students. Fighting back tears, she told the policy committee of how one of her sons enlisted in the Navy. "It is imperative that the schools limit the access regardless of their academic status," she said.

Mr. Sykes said he believes military recruiters target poor students who have little hope financially or academically of going on to college.

"When I was in school we had the draft," he said. "Now, this is their way of getting people to sign up."

Local military recruiters have declined repeated attempts for comment on this issue.


— Ignazio Messina
Toledo Blade


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