The Army recently requested Loudoun County Public Schools distribute a survey to high-school juniors and seniors to gauge their interest in military services.
When Leesburg resident Michelle Grise got wind of the survey, she responded by forming the Loudoun Coalition on Recruitment Issues. The group is made up of parents concerned about just how vigorously the Army is recruiting in local high schools to make their quotas.
Under No Child Left Behind, military recruiters are permitted to stand outside of high-school cafeterias and recruit students to the military.
"We do not allow colleges or businesses access to our students in a classroom nor should we allow military recruiters," Grise said. "Our students' time is for learning, it is not for making our recruiters' job easier."
While college recruiters meet with students in a supervised setting, Grise said military recruiters are permitted to talk to students one-on-one in the halls.
"They are allowed to set up tables in front of the cafeteria, where virtually every student must pass. They are also not supervised by school staff," she said. "This means we can not be sure that our students are being protected against recruiters who may not be telling the truth. We are also leaving our students vulnerable to sexual improprieties."
WHEN GRISE asked parents around the county if they knew about the recruitment policy in place, she said they were unaware their children’s information was being released to the armed services.
"They also had no idea that in order to prevent this from happening that they needed write a letter within 14 days of the start of school explaining they did not want their information released to the military," she said. "And the reason they didn’t know that is because that information appeared on the short paragraph on page 23 of the handbook. An opt-out form at the beginning of the handbook would most likely prevent this from happening."
Grise requested School Board members rethink their recruitment policy and requested a military opt-out form be placed in the front of Students Rights and Responsibility Handbook at the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year.
MARK NUZACCO (CATOCTIN), chairman of the legislative policy committee, said he received a letter from Army Staff Sgt. Robert Trujillo March 13 requesting high-school juniors and seniors complete a survey gauging their interest in the Army.
Trujillo said the point of the survey was to eliminate unnecessary calls from recruiters to the homes of students who are not interested in the military.
"I understand the Army is not for everyone," Trujillo said in his letter. "In an effort to eliminate the need to call students, please pass out the attached surveys."
Trujillo requested the surveys be passed out by a teacher, and after the students complete the survey, only those students that expressed interest in military service would be contacted by an Army recruiter.
The legislative policy committee requested Trujillo revamp the survey so it was applicable to all areas of the military.
Nuzacco said the committee would consider a uniform recruitment survey of all branches of the military service.
"We might or might not agree with what they proposal," Nuzacco said.
The school system’s current policy allows recruiters access to students in the guidance offices and high-school cafeterias, not during class time.
"That’s been the current practice and will be until we decide a change needs to be made," he said.
DON EAVES, a member of the coalition, asked the School Board to consider bringing recently discharged veterans without conflicts of interest to high schools to talk about their experiences, both positive and negative, to provide teenagers with first-hand accounts of military life and the realities of war.
"We are working as quickly as possible to get the School Board to adopt a military opt-out form which will be in place for the upcoming school year," Grise said.