The military has an enormous budget for recruiting and pressuring school districts that limit recruiter visits….Vigilance is necessary. During the school year 2017-18 Truth in Recruitment (TIR) leadership and staff met with Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) school board members Ismael Ulloa, Wendi Sims-Mooten and Jackie Reid as well as Assistant Superintendent Shawn Carey on four separate occasions. We discussed implementation of the Exhibit 5125.1 Recruiting Activities in the Santa Barbara Unified School District and the continued problem of policy violations.
Two issues took a lot of back and forth with the district to work out — the Opt Out form for release of directory information, and recruiters’ efforts to solicit contact information directly from students:
- We believe that a recruiter told the SBUSD that they could not give parents a choice on the Opt Out form to check a separate box to opt out only from the military getting a child’s information. Last year the district combined the two as a single opt-out – Colleges/Military. After much research by one of our members, a retired lawyer and Dos Pueblos HS alumni parent, the district agreed to ‘uncouple’ the choices. We showed them over 20 examples of school districts who gave families an either or choice, including the state of Hawaii, and such cities as Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. The Military Law Task Force and the Project on Youth and Nonmilitary Opportunities also aided this effort.
- The second issue–some SBUSD high schools allowed recruiters to use ‘surveys’ and contact cards to collect student contact information directly from students. Under the federal Every Child Succeeds Act, school districts are only required to give recruiters a student’s name, address and telephone number. These surveys, prominent on the recruiter’s tables, asked for student’s email, GPA, U.S. citizenship status and more, under the guise of finding out their job interests for the military. Such surveys ignore parents’ opt out right to privacy. Recruiters also have handed their phones to students for them to follow each other on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. The military uses social media platforms extensively. After we showed examples of these “surveys” to the administration, they agreed that these violated students’ privacy and the SBUSD policy. If a family “opts-out” they “opt-out.” This will remain an area to monitor.
With the district’s support, TIR parent, students and staff will have annual meetings with all of the SBUSD principals to engage them in implementing the policy and making their staff aware of the recruiter guidelines. We also plan to continue meeting with the school board members and district administration. For our goal of building leadership, we will be working with Parent, Teacher and Student Associations, English Learner Advisory Committees (ELACs), and student clubs.