Q & A About Military Recruitment at High Schools
Are schools required to allow military recruiters on campus?
Federal and Washington laws require high schools to give military recruiters the same access to the campus as they provide to other persons or groups who advise students about occupational or educational options. Therefore, if a school does not have any on-campus recruiting by employers or colleges, it is not required to have on-campus military recruiting. But if a school allows on-campus recruiting, it must allow recruiting by the military. For example, if a school has a job fair with booths for many employers, it must offer a booth to military recruiters.
Can my school allow military recruiters in the lunchroom?
School districts have great leeway to decide which areas are open to nonstudents. So long as military recruiters receive the same access as other recruiters, it is up to the school to decide whether they will be allowed into the lunchroom, the commons, the career counseling office, or another designated area.
Can my school exclude military recruiters if it has a rule against recruitment by employers or colleges that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation?
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that universities and law schools are not allowed to ban military recruiters for this reason, because federal law requires equal access for the military. The answer is probably the same for high schools.
Is a school required to give military recruiters better access than it gives to other recruiters?
Is a school allowed to give military recruiters better access than it gives to other recruiters?
If a school dedicates part of its property as a space for presentations by selected categories of speakers (like job recruiters), the law considers that space to be a "public forum." A school operating a public forum must give all speakers within that category the same degree of access. For example, a school that gives military recruiters access to a public forum must give equal access to other recruiters. However, a school has control over its own curriculum, and it does not automatically create a public forum merely by presenting its choice of materials or guest speakers to students. Whether a school has created a public forum for recruiters will depend on the specific facts and history at the school.
Can peace groups or military counseling groups get equal time as military recruiters?
Nothing would prevent a school from allowing peace groups to come on campus if it wished. Whether peace groups could require the school to provide access against its wishes depends on whether the school has created a public forum for that kind of expression. For example, if a school had a job fair with booths for many employers, it could not keep out organizations that describe jobs in the peace movement. It is less clear whether the school could keep out a booth that did not offer jobs of its own, but instead did nothing but criticize the job opportunities described by others. The answer would depend on the specific facts and history at the school.
Can student peace groups meet on campus?
Yes, as long as the school allows other student groups to meet on campus. The Equal Access Act requires schools that have at least one noncurriculum-related student group meeting on campus to give equal access to all student groups. This includes student peace organizations.
Can I prevent my school from giving contact information to military recruiters?
The law requires schools to release basic contact information about students (called “directory information”) to military recruiters. However, schools are required to honor a family’s request that such information not be provided. Click below for a sample opt-out letter to school principals (School Consent Form).
Can I prevent military recruiters from contacting me or my child?
The Department of Defense keeps a list of prospective recruits in the Joint Advertising and Marketing Research & Studies (JAMRS) database. The information in JAMRS may come from many different sources, so opting out at the school level is not sufficient to ensure that a name will not be in JAMRS. The Department of Defense recently agreed to honor requests to move names into a "suppression file" that will not be available to recruiters. Click below for a sample opt-out letter to JAMRS (Military Recruitment Opt Out). A new opt-out request will be needed each time a student changes mailing addresses.
To Take Action: Parents and students who wish to avoid the release of their own contact information should provide written notice to the school district and indicate whether your restriction on release applies to institutions of higher education, the military, or all third parties.
Click below for a model consent form (Military Recruitment and Schools - Model Consent Form).
You can go further and urge your local school district to set up easy-to-use procedures that notify students and parents of their rights and that make it easy for them to opt out.
See "Military Recruitment - Model Letter to Superintendent" for a model letter to your superintendent.
Click below to see the form adopted by the Shoreline School District (Military Recruitment - Form Adopted by Shoreline School District).
Please contact the ACLU office for additional assistance.