School district tables decision on military recruiters 

The same No Child Left Behind act that gives military recruiters access to high school campuses could be the basis for a new limit on the frequency at which they will be making appearances at San Mateo Union High School District schools.

The district’s Board of Trustees tabled a decision Thursday on whether to limit the access of military recruiters until the Superintendent’s Office presents a report that would gather input from principals at many of the district’s schools.

A report that will study the frequency and quality of interaction between recruiters and students will be presented to the Superintendent’s Office at a later date.

Superintendent Samuel Johnson Jr. said military recruiters are given as much access to San Mateo Union High School District campuses as job or college recruiters, as required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

But Peace Action of San Mateo County, a local activist group, asked the district at Thursday’s meeting to limit this access to three visits per school year per recruiter.

The change would not violate federal law if the district placed the same limits on employers and college recruiters, noted group President Mike Caggiano.

"We feel we can be completely in compliance with NCLB because universities aren’t going to show up on campuses more than two or three times a year," Caggiano said.

Peace Action Vice President Donald Havis said he was pleased with the board’s decision and called it "a step in the right direction."

Sgt. First Class Brian Knott, station commander of Army recruiting in Belmont, is anxious to review the upcoming report and said the limit would have a negligible effect on his efforts to recruit.

As a precedent, Peace Action cited a decision by the Madison Metropolitan School District in Wisconsin that limited all recruiters to three visits a year on days designated by the principal of the individual schools.

"In most high schools, they’ll have a career day and a job fair, so we’re being generous," Havis said.

Caggiano and Havis both said that although they want recruiters limited, they do not think a full elimination — which would already violate the federal act — is necessary.

"I think they should be allowed on campus; the military is a reality, we’re always going to need one," Caggiano said. "I just don’t like the advertising that is done to people under 18 and the frequency of it."

E-mail Jason Goldman-Hall at jgoldman@examiner.com.

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