Deadline set for opt-out request forms

School board gives parents until Monday to withhold info

Posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2005

As the result of a recent request for student information from military recruiters, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has given itself a Monday deadline to respond.

That delay offers parents time to complete an opt-out form directing the district to withhold student information and return the form to schools prior to the deadline.

This new request from recruiters comes shortly after district administrators revised the opt-out form in response to parental concerns.

In the past, forms signed by parents directed the district not to release student directory information to anyone.

The revised form offers parents the option of having the district withhold student directory information from representatives of the military and-or withhold the information from all other representatives, including news media, prospective employers, colleges and nonprofit organizations.

“All the high schools have been sent new copies and they have been instructed to get it out to all their students,” said Sam Stewart, assistant superintendent with the district. “They know about the timeline.”

Alan Fields, principal of Kenai Central High School, said a copy of the opt-out form was distributed through the school newsletter.

Todd Syverson, principal at Soldotna High School, said forms are being sent home with students today with a note that those wishing to opt-out must return the forms by Friday. A notice will be posted on the school’s Web site.

The opt-out form was revised after Skyview High School’s most recent newsletter was completed, but copies are available at the school office, as they are at all high school offices.

The form also was included in the newsletter at Homer High School, where some 20 copies have been returned with the military box checked.

For Mary Jo Spotts, whose son is a senior at SoHi, choosing to opt out is a matter of privacy. She said she obtained a copy of an opt-out form three years ago through a peace group in Minnesota.

“I filled it out and took it to my son’s school, but it was kind of obvious no one knew what it was or what to do with it,” Spotts said.

Opting out also is a family privacy issue for Charlie Gibson, whose son is a junior at Homer High School and not interested in receiving recruiting information or visits from recruiters.

“There always has been an opt-out option for parents,” Gibson said. “But the No Child Left Behind Act stipulated that student information — name, address, telephone number — be given to military recruiters or else schools would lose their federal funding. However, one of the real clear stipulations of NCLB is that parents should be given the option. Obviously, the burden of getting that information to students and parents is on the school district.”

Gibson praised the school board and district administrators for revising the form to include a military-only opt-out option.

Stewart said requests from military recruiters generally are received once in the fall and once in the spring. Requests also are received from the news media, prospective employers, nonprofit organizations and legislators. As stated in the district’s Parent-Student Handbook, “Directory information which school officials may disclose consists of the following: student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of athletic team members, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and most recent previous school attended.”

“Our most common request is for address, name and telephone number,” Stewart said, adding that interest in the opt-form is not new. “But it seems to be an issue because we are at war, and people are sensitive to it. I can understand that.”

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