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Districts Differ on Furnishing Student Lists

TIMES STAFF WRITER

South Bay school districts vary widely in their policies on providing lists of high school students to military recruiters, colleges and other groups.

Such activities were highlighted earlier this week when the Los Angeles school board voted to stop selling lists of high school students to outside organizations.

One South Bay school district--Palos Verdes Peninsula--still is paid for lists of names and addresses, though as in Los Angeles, the money is meant to recover expenses.

Two of the other districts--Torrance Unified and South Bay Union--are routinely providing such rosters free-of-charge to any organization that meets state guidelines. Inglewood Unified also provides such lists, though organizations that meet state guidelines may be refused the names if district officials find the group will not assist students in “meeting educational goals,” an official said.

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Centinela Valley Union does not give student rosters to outside organizations.

An official at El Segundo Unified on Thursday was unable to provide information about his district’s policy.

All the districts said they protect student confidentiality by permitting parents to request their child’s name be deleted from such lists.

At Palos Verdes Peninsula, district officials have been operating under a policy since the mid-1980s that allows parents who do not want student information released to sign a form requesting confidentiality for their children.

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“There are some people who want to be contacted, . . . and there are others who do not want to be contacted at all,” said Nancy Mahr, Palos Verdes spokeswoman. “It’s just an individual choice.”

Palos Verdes receives $25 for a computer run of its approximately 3,000 high school students. Mahr insisted, “We do not sell the lists,” since the charge is imposed solely to cover the district’s costs.

Selling lists is allowed under the state Education Code and is common in districts throughout California. State guidelines permit lists to be provided to colleges, prospective employers, such as the armed services, and booster groups, but not to private for-profit companies.

Members of the Los Angeles school board changed their policy Tuesday, saying the lists were being abused, particularly by military recruiters who target students in poor or minority areas and tout the military as their only hope to get out of poverty.

In Inglewood, administrators scrutinize every organization that asks for a list, said spokesman Maurice Wiley. “We ask them what they are using the lists for and what the nature is of the mailing,” he said. “We have to have some control, and we monitor it for the parents.”

In the case of military recruiters, Inglewood has refused to provide mailing lists when they are to be used solely for recruitment purposes. However, if a military branch is seeking lists for ROTC recruitment, then such a list would be provided, Wiley said.

“I was just shocked that some school districts were selling the names,” said Inglewood school board President Lois Hill-Hale, adding that she opposes releasing student information because of confidentiality concerns.

However, Torrance district officials said parents have the final say in what will be released. A packet containing a form that allows parents to block release of their child’s name is mailed to homes at the beginning of each school year. The names are released if the form is not returned.

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“If someone were to call me and complain about their kid being on the list, I would say ‘Why didn’t you read your packet?’ ” said Dave Sargent, Torrance board president.

Pat Chandler, director of educational services for the South Bay Union School District, echoed Sargent’s comments. She said the district withholds student information at the request of a parent, or of a pupil over the age of 18.

“If they don’t want us to release it, we won’t release it,” Chandler said.

Lynn Derr, a spokeswoman with the Army’s Los Angeles recruiting battalion, said the use of student lists varies from recruiter to recruiter.

“It definitely will affect us,” Derr said of the new Los Angeles policy on student information. “But we will continue to attract high quality men and women. We’re just going to have to be more creative.”


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