Talk to Address Military Recruiters on High School Campuses

Organizers Suggest General Guidelines Be Made Official School Board Policy

The extent to which military recruiters should be allowed on local high school campuses will be the topic of discussion this Saturday at the Faulkner Gallery.

Santa Barbara Friends Meeting (Quakers), Veterans for Peace, and Santa Barbara High School Social Justice Club representatives are teaming up to spread the word about the impact of military personnel in schools. Current district protocol exists to limit recruiters of all types on the three high school campuses, but event cohosts Santa Barbara High School parent Kate Connell and Vietnam veteran Michael Cervantes hope to turn the guidelines into more detailed and permanent board policy.

Per No Child Left Behind (and tied to federal funding), public high schools must allow the same access to military recruiters as they do for college and career recruiters. School districts can place limits on recruiter campus visits, as long as the same policies apply to all types.

SBUSD protocol states that recruiters must contact schools prior to their visits — limited to twice a year — just like college and career recruiters. (Centralized college and career fairs do not constitute a “visit.”) Further, recruiters from all categories must sign in at the administration office, do not have “unfettered” access to students on campus, and cannot offer awards or gifts in exchange for contact information. Students must approach recruiters if they wish to get in touch with them outside of school.

Prospective employers and military and college recruiters have access to student directory information, including names, addresses, and phone numbers of juniors and seniors unless a parent or guardian (or students 18 years or older) sign a form opting out in the fall.

Connell hopes to spread the word about the “opt-out” form and get the school board to draft a new policy that is more detailed than the current protocol. “It would be a policy across the board,” she said. “It’s very fair.” Connell added that it’s very difficult for people to “quit” the military, and called for more honest information to be presented in schools. According to a flyer to promote Saturday’s event, 90 percent of military recruits sign up while still in high school through the Delayed Entry Program.

“In the last decade, we’ve had two very aggressive wars,” said Cervantes. “It got scary for a lot of parents.”

On Saturday, participating panelists will include Alejandra Rishton, a veteran and former multimedia specialist in the army; Pat Alviso, a member of Military Families Speak Out and mother whose son has been deployed five times; Michelle Cohen, a representative to provide information about military service alternatives; and Rick Jahnkow, a representative from Project YANO (Youth and Non-Military Opportunities). Jahnkow helped draft similar policy in San Diego.

Connell added that the Marines are also planning to attend Saturday’s event.

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