|So-called “student directory information,” which includes things such as name, age and extracurricular activities, may 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.
Dave Davison, president of Peace Network of the Ozarks, has called attention to the effort made last year by his group with the Springfield School Board to improve the opt out language and policy as shown in the student handbook. The problem that needed correction involved students who exercised their military opt out privilege but were being discriminated against by being made invisible. A child who opted out no longer existed for potential grants and scholarships or other opportunities toward his or her choice of career.
School Districts all over the US, including those within Missouri, have complied with the government requirement in a manner that is fair to all students by allowing the opt out privilege without unfair penalties, Davison explained. 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. So, why does Springfield's policy have to be an all or nothing proposition?
After receiving indications from school board administrators by the end of the last school year that improvements would be made, Davison said that didn’t happen. And he says that the student handbook this year is as confusing, and unfair, as anything seen in the past. The policy, he explains, continues to discriminate by lumping the military with other student opportunities. Opt out for the military, opt out for everything.
Peace Network believes that it is not fair to a student with other career preferences to have to suffer the harassment and solicitations of any group in which they have no interest. A student should be allowed to opt out of any single entity whether it be the military or solicitations from out of state colleges if the student is Missouri-bound, just as an easy example.
The group will be approaching the school board at their meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007 at the Springfield School District office, 940 N. Jefferson. They will be speaking to the Board, and have asked for the moral support of all friends who can attend to indicate their continuing strong concern over this unfair policy.
There will be an opt-out subcommittee huddle meeting in the school board parking lot at 4:30 p.m. before signing up to speak to the Board at 5 p.m. All members are being asked to huddle with the committee to offer ideas and suggestions.