San Diego Unified has stopped giving any student information to the military amid complaints from angry parents who said they received forms that were pre-marked to allow their children’s information to be given to military recruiters, instead of allowing them to check yes or no.

Activist Rick Jahnkow told the school board that the forms appear to violate families’ rights. While some parents crossed out the “yes” mark on the sheets, “no doubt many parents didn’t realize they could do this,” said Jahnkow, a coordinator of the Education Not Arms Coalition, which earlier protested the alleged involuntary enrollment of students in military science classes and rifle ranges on campus.

“Some people in this district want to help the military recruit new soldiers more than they want to help us go to college,” said Tania Luken, a mother who was outraged by the forms.

School board members were alarmed by the forms and asked staff to investigate what had happened and stop it. Chief Information and Technology Officer Darryl LaGace said it was possible that the forms were meant to confirm data the schools already had, but was unsure because he hadn’t seen the form.

One such form given to the school board also had automatic marks of “no” for leaving children unlisted in the school directory and “no” for being engaged in migrant work. Jahnkow said parents had complained about similar letters at Mission Bay High, Patrick Henry High, Longfellow Elementary and San Diego Cooperative Charter School. The letters were written in English.

“It’s kind of weird that we’re checking anything for parents at all,” school board member Katherine Nakamura said.

Under No Child Left Behind, schools must give military recruiters the names, addresses and phone listings of high school students unless parents opt out. They must also notify parents of their right to withhold the information. Deputy Superintendent Chuck Morris said the school district would halt releasing the information until it was clear that all parents had gotten a chance to opt out.

“We will check every enrollment form that went out,” Morris said. “This is not appropriate, to have a pre-filled-out form.”


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