Data Privacy and Military Recruiters

There has been some confusion about the privacy of data submitted by homeschoolers to their school districts. A recent change in Minnesota law made homeschool data “private.” On its face, this was a positive change, because the law now essentially states that homeschoolers’ data cannot be released without the prior written consent of the child’s parent or guardian. See Minn. Stat. 13.32, subd. 4(a). However, as is so often the case in legal matters, there are exceptions to that rule. One of those exceptions is that private data can be released “pursuant to a statute specifically authorizing access to the private data.” See Minn. Stat. 13.32, subd. 3(c).

What can I do to keep my child’s data private?

One of the provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation requires schools receiving federal funds to give military recruiters “access to secondary school students names, addresses and telephone listings.” This portion of the federal legislation, often referred to as Section 9528, is available here: “Armed Forces Recruiter Access to Students and Student Recruiting Information.” Section 9528 requires your school district to give your children’s data to military recruiters when they ask for it, even though Minnesota law regards that data as private.

The No Child Left Behind legislation also has exceptions. You can request that your children’s information not be released to military recruiters. This rule is found at Section 9528(a)(2). Your school district is technically required to inform you of this option, but that doesn’t appear to be happening in many Minnesota school districts. We are aware that some districts have forms you can sign that will protect your children’s data from military recruiters. However, you need to request those forms, fill them out, and return them to your district.

MHA takes no position on whether parents should or should not make an effort to prevent military recruiters from obtaining their children’s private data. We’re quite certain we have members with proud records of military service, and members whose religious and philosophical beliefs are opposed to war. In keeping with our mission, we’re simply providing information to our members so each family can make its own informed decision on this issue.

If you are comfortable with your children’s data going to military recruiters, you need take no action. If you would prefer to protect your children’s data from military recruiters, you’ll need to take some steps to prevent it. A logical first step is to call your school district and request its “opt out” form, if it has one. If there is no district form, you can write a letter requesting that your children’s data not be released to military recruiters. We have provided a link to a site containing examples of such correspondence.