The phone number for author of this story, Bill Zlatos, is listed at the end. Consider calling him to ask why no student, parent or member of a peace group is quoted in this article.
After a monthlong battle, the city school board adopted a policy Wednesday night that restricts military and other recruiters in schools.
In response to complaints about military recruiters by parents and peace groups, the board voted 8-1 to adopt five guidelines that take effect this school year, with school board member Mark Brentley dissenting.
The new rules do the following:
* Require recruiters to register with the principal or an administrator upon arrival.
* Require a district employee to escort recruiters around a school unless they can show proof of having state and federal clearances or a statement from their employer that they have such clearances.
* Prohibit them from sponsoring contests, drawings, lotteries or from exchanging gifts unless they are of scholarships or are of minimal value.
* Ban them from using exhibits that violate the district’s weapons policy or using video games that depict weapons or violence.
* Limit them to meeting students in areas designated by the principal.
The board voted to delete two proposed guidelines — one limiting the amount of visits in Pittsburgh Public Schools and another prohibiting recruiters from serving as mentors, tutors, coaches or club sponsors unless their own child attends the school — because of their potential impact on college and job recruiters. Under federal and state law, school districts cannot restrict military recruiters any more than college or job recruiters.
Board member Daniel M. Romaniello Sr. voted for the guidelines but said, “I have a problem with singling a group of people out who have answered the call from their country.”
Dale Terry, spokesman for the Downtown-based Pittsburgh Recruiting Battalion, said the new policy will not hamper the Army’s recruiting.
“As long as everybody’s on equal standing, there should be no qualms about this,” he said. “The schools have been great friends of ours, and we hope to continue that relationship.”
Terry said Army recruiters would abide by the rules, including one that bans them from bringing weapons into schools or video games that show weapons or violence. Recruiters use a film, “America’s Army,” which shows the steps of basic training. One of those steps is weapons training.
“It would be unfair for us to talk to anyone about the Army and not say we have weapons,” Terry said. “It’s the Army.”
The school board adopted two forms for parents to exclude their high school children’s name, address and phone number from appearing on a list given to military recruiters. The district previously used one form, and parents could check any of three boxes to exclude information from military, college or job recruiters.
Bill Zlatos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 320-7828.