Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 59° Partly Cloudy
News >  Spokane

Military’s school recruiting targeted

Partly to avoid the fiasco that happened at Spokane Public Schools last fall over providing student information to military recruiters, state lawmakers are considering a measure that would require all districts to establish clearer procedures.

In the fall, a new policy by Spokane Public Schools led to confusion and concern. Parents were told that if they didn’t want military recruiters to receive their children’s names and numbers, the students would also be left off all other listings – such as school honor listings and sports rosters. Eventually, district officials dropped the policy.

If approved and signed into law, Senate Bill 6681 would enable parents to receive an “opt-out” form within 15 days of the start of the year. Parents then would have 30 days to limit the release of their children’s information.

The opt-out procedure is part of the No Child Left Behind Act, which also requires schools to send student information to military recruiters.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle. Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, signed on as a co-sponsor.

“I thought that since our district had encountered the issue, it probably made sense to see whether we should look at a statewide policy,” Brown said this week.

A copy has been sent to Spokane Public Schools, but Brown said she has not received any feedback.

Spokane Public Schools spokeswoman Terren Roloff said of the bill: “It appears to be another unfunded mandate.”

Brown said, “I think a state policy makes sense, but I’d like it to be as flexible as possible.”

She said she followed the Spokane issue as it unfolded in the fall.

Parent Rene Roehl, who was concerned about the district’s policy, cheered when she heard about the bill.

“I’d like this bill to pass and be implemented over the summer,” she said.

Breeane Beggs, executive director of the Center for Justice, a nonprofit human rights legal organization, said he was impressed by the strong language in the bill regarding military recruiters in schools.

“They made it clear that military recruiters should be serving the schools, parents and students, not vice versa,” Beggs said. “They are really there at the generosity of the school district. People don’t have to be submitted to aggressive recruiting unless they want to be.”

The changes would apply to all students, even those who don’t opt out.

The bill would require all public school boards to establish policies and procedures that:

Prevent recruiters from being alone with students unless they submit a state and FBI background check along with a letter from the Department of Defense regarding the recruiter’s military record, including criminal behavior. They can also meet with students if a school staffer or volunteer is in the room.

Discipline recruiters who engage in dishonest, unscrupulous or deceptive recruiting practices.

Prohibit recruiters from taking students off campus during school or meeting students after school without written parental consent.

The bill also would make it a misdemeanor to meet a student off school grounds without parental consent.

Russell Vaucher, education services specialist for the Seattle Recruiting Battalion of the U.S. Army, which oversees Northwest recruiting officers, expressed concern about the bill.

“Are they going to require the same thing for college recruiters and people who offer job fairs in the schools?” Russell asked.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.