Vermont ACLU: ‘Know your rights on recruiters’

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From the Times Argus:

As a new school year begins, we’d like to remind parents of their right to control the release of student information to military recruiters, colleges and others.

So-called “student directory information,” which includes things such as name, age and extracurricular activities, can be made publicly available under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) unless parents choose to “opt out” and withhold the disclosure of their child’s information.

Military recruiters may also obtain the names and contact information of high school students.

However, last year the Vermont Legislature passed a law that gives families separate “opt-out” rights. A family may tell a school it doesn’t want recruiters to get their student’s information, but it’s OK if others — such as colleges — do.

Before this Vermont law was passed, some schools told families “opting out” was an all-or-nothing proposition. You couldn’t say “no” to recruiters but “yes” to others. This is no longer the case. Schools must notify parents of their separate opt-out rights.

To exercise an opt-out right, a simple letter to the school principal or guidance counselor will do. Or, families can download an opt-out form from the ACLU Web site (www.acluvt.org) and submit that to the school.

The ACLU would like to know of schools that do not provide notice of these separate opt-out rights. We can be contacted at info@acluvt.org.

It’s important that students be aware of the range of opportunities available to them. But it’s also important that they be able to explore opportunities on their own terms, with their rights to privacy protected.

Allen Gilbert

Executive director

ACLU of Vermont

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