Teens can say ‘no’ to military

EDMONDS – Kurt Kutay stood outside Edmonds-Woodway High School Monday, hoping to pare the student list military recruiters will pore over in a few weeks.

Handing “opt out” brochures from school sidewalks has become a fall ritual for the Edmonds man, who is opposed to the war in Iraq.

“This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of the Defense Department finding recruits for the front lines in Iraq,” Kutay said.

It’s an access issue.

Schools have long given out student contact information to military recruiters, as do colleges and other groups. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 put teeth into the practice, requiring schools to release the names, addresses and phone numbers of juniors and seniors or risk losing federal aid.

Parents can request to have the information withheld, but many are unaware of that option.

Getting the word out brought Kutay, who is the father of a Meadowdale High School student, and others to the Edmonds School District’s four large high schools over the past week.

Parents and students have until Oct. 6 to get the paperwork filed with the district if they don’t want to hear from military recruiters.

In the Edmonds district, the paperwork is called a Do Not Release Directory Information form. It includes a check box to preclude release of information to the military, another for the media and one for everyone short of law enforcement.

As of Monday, the Edmonds district has received 829 forms requesting the district withhold student contact information, slightly ahead of last year’s pace for the same time. There were 1,110 requests last year.

Other districts, such as Mukilteo, are receiving forms as well. “They just keep trickling in,” said Andy Muntz, a district spokesman.

The Edmonds district included the “Do Not Release” forms in its calendar mailed to families in August, but it is taking no sides in the debate.

“It’s a delicate line,” said Debbie Jakala, a district spokeswoman. “We are sensitive to both sides of the issue.”

Lynnwood High School Principal David Golden said his campus received no complaints when the opt-out campaign appeared outside his school last week.

Lynnwood makes school-wide announcements about the availability of the forms as it would any other student forms, he said.

Military recruiters say they are not worried the opt-out forms will put a dent in their goals.

“At this point, we don’t notice any change and we probably won’t,” said Verna Rossevelt, a spokeswoman for the regional Army Recruiting Battalion in Seattle.

Recruiters have told her the opt-out forms have helped them in some ways.

“It narrows the list down of people who would have had no interest,” she said.

Monika Tippie, 17, an Edmonds-Woodway senior, believes students are more aware they can opt out of the list than they were in the past.

A school club, Students for Democracy, invited representatives from both sides of the issue to give their perspectives last year.

Tippie, who follows the Quaker faith’s pacifist beliefs, had her name removed.

“I think students are getting more informed but probably aren’t aware that their information is available in other databases as well,” she said.

Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446 or stevick@heraldnet.com.

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