ACLU Settles Landmark Lawsuit Over Release of Student Information to Military Recruiters

Affiliate: ACLU of New Mexico
January 27, 2006 12:00 am

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ACLU of New Mexico
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ALBUQUERQUE – In the first settlement of its kind, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico today announced that the Albuquerque Public Schools will no longer send students’ contact information directly to military recruiters without properly notifying parents of their right to opt out of such information sharing.

“We live in a time when a student’s decision to sign up for the military is likely to land him or her right on the field of battle,” said ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson. “Understandably, many parents want to limit the access recruiters have to their children. Schools have an ethical and legal obligation to honor parental control and to respect students’ privacy.”

The federal No Child Left Behind Act grants secondary school students and their parents the right to deny the military access to a student’s name, address, and telephone listing. Legal papers were filed by the ACLU because in 2004 several local high schools failed to notify parents of this right until weeks, and in some cases, months, after those schools had already shared students’ information with the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy.

Under the settlement agreement, Albuquerque Public Schools will adopt and implement a policy requiring the district to include information about the No Child Left Behind Act in the registration packet each secondary school mails to parents before registration. The materials will include a form parents may use to request that a student’s name, address, and telephone listing not be released to military recruiters. Once parents have made such a request, it will remain in effect until it is changed in writing by the student or the parents.

“It’s not enough to bury the notice of parents’ opt-out rights somewhere on a school website or in a student handbook,” said ACLU of New Mexico volunteer attorney Karen Meyers of Aguilar Law Offices, P.C. “The notice to parents has to be meaningful. The school has to bring the information to parents’ attention so they can make an informed and conscious choice. The school system wasn’t doing that and we suspect many other districts around the state aren’t doing it either.”

The ACLU said it would consider bringing similar legal action against other non-complying school districts in the state.

For more information on military recruitment under the No Child Left Behind Act, go to www.aclu.org/privacy/youth/15655res20031016.html

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