Pentagon sued over recruitment efforts
By Mark Sommer
The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Defense, charging illegal recruitment efforts against high school students.
The group claims the Defense Department has improperly used a database for collecting, maintaining and distributing students' personal and private information.
"We knew that our military was desperate for soldiers and that recruiters had gone to great lengths to pressure students to join the ranks," the group's Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement. "But we could not have guessed the Department of Defense would pursue a recruiting tactic that would so completely disregard the boundaries that Congress had laid down to protect student privacy rights."
Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke of the Department of Defense had no comment. Last October, the group represented students and parents who complained Hutchinson-Central Technical High School was automatically enrolling freshmen in Junior ROTC without consent. State education law requires a student's voluntary enrollment and written consent from a parent or guardian.
John A. Curr III, the executive director of the group's western regional office, said it was at Hutch-Tech that the organization learned the Department of Defense was tracking students as young as 14. Federal law states they must be at least 17.
Principal David Greco defended the policy at the time, asserting it was permissible under a little-known provision of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
The lawsuit could determine if No Child Left Behind usurped a more restrictive military recruitment law passed by Congress in 1982.
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