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Published: Friday, 9/1/2006

Campaign highlights opt-out rights

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A group opposed to military recruiting in schools started a two-week campaign yesterday to reach students at 36 Toledo-area high schools and tell them how to legally remove their names from lists turned over to the military.

Peggy Daly-Masternak, a West Toledo resident and co-chairman of the Student and Family Rights and Privacy Committee, said many students are unaware that they can keep their personal information out of the hands of the military should they wish.

The federal 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 got a great response and lots of students took brochures from us, Ms. Daly-Masternak said. She acknowledged that Toledo Public Schools sent a letter out to parents in June about the issue, listing what their opt-out rights are under the law.

The group has representatives stand outside Toledo s Scott and Rogers high schools yesterday as part of its educational campaign. Today, they plan to be outside Toledo s Bowsher High and at Springfield High School in Holland. The group s campaign will run through Sept. 15.

The Toledo Board of Education adjusted its military recruiting policy last school year so recruiters are not provided a list of students until the first week of October. That gives students who wish to be omitted from the list time to make their request.

Linda See, chairman of the Northwest Ohio board of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the TPS policy change a major step forward.

Some other area school districts, including Maumee, and Sylvania, began last year to highlight the opt-out option in brochures or letters sent to families.

Military recruiters have been under fire nationally in recent weeks.

A six-month investigation by the Associated Press released earlier this month found that more than 100 young women who expressed interest in joining the military in the past year were allegedly preyed upon sexually by their recruiters.

On Aug. 14, congressional investigators said military recruiters have increasingly resorted to overly aggressive tactics and even criminal activity to attract enlistees. The ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have made recruiting more difficult in recent years, and the military has responded with heavy advertising campaigns, video-battle CDs, and school visits to try and attract more troops.



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