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Students! Know Your Rights: Student Records & Military Recruitment

Students! Know Your Rights: Table of Contents >>



Student Records

Directory information can be shared if, for example, the school creates a student phone directory or yearbook. All other information is private and confidential, meaning it cannot be released without your parent’s written consent or, if you are 18 years or older, your own written consent. 105

There are two kinds of school records:

1. Any written or other recorded information maintained by a school which concerns a student and through which a student might be identified.

2. Directory information that shows a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in sports, awards received, and date of graduation, and student photos or video/digital recordings of student activities.

You and your parents have the right to access and copy (copies are only required if denying copies to a parent would effectively prevent the parent from accessing the records) your own school records. Schools may charge for copies, though they cannot withhold these copies because of inability to pay. Statements you may have made in confidence to school officials, doctors, and psychologists must be kept private — unless your life or the life of another student is in danger.

Federal law allows some people to access your student records without prior parental consent. They include: school, district, or state education personnel who have a current educational interest in the information; appropriate personnel at another school at which you seek or intend to enroll; someone who has obtained a court order for release of the records; law enforcement officials; persons conducting studies for specific reasons on behalf of the educational entity, the U.S. Secretary of Education, persons with the consent of your parents or guardian; and anyone designated by state law. 106



Military Recruitment


The U.S. military has launched an aggressive campaign to recruit high school students for the armed services. Congress has allowed this to happen by creating two laws that allow military recruitment. One law is contained in the "No Child Left Behind Act" of 2001, and the other law is in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2002. 107 Under these laws, the military can, in most cases, recruit in high schools. They are also allowed to approach high schools for a release of student information. 108


On campus

Schools must allow military recruiters on campus if they allow other recruiters, such as colleges and prospective employers, on campus. 109 The school must permit the military to meet with students where the other recruiters meet. The same rights apply to recruiters who represent humanitarian organizations, such as the Peace Corps; they can meet with students if other recruiting groups and colleges can meet with students. 110

The Equal Access Act protects the rights of any student group that is critical of the military, as long as other student groups are also allowed on campus to voice their opinions.


Release of student information

Federal law requires schools to disclose student names, addresses and telephone numbers (“directory information”) to the military upon request. 111 While there are no specific penalties under the law if a school refuses to provide this information, the government can withhold money from the school. 112 Because of this provision, unless a student or a parent “opts out,” the school must give the information to the military.

To opt out, you or your parent can request in writing that the school not give any information to the military. However, if you are a minor who wishes to opt out, and your parent decides to release the information, the school follows your parent’s choice, not yours.

Read the ACLU of Utah's position paper on Frequently Asked Questions on Student Privacy, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and the No Child Left Behind Act >>


Know Your Rights!

Dante is a sophomore and does not want his records given to the military. His parents told him that he does not have to opt out until eleventh grade, because the military only receives information about juniors and seniors in high school. To be safe, Dante wants to opt out now. Can the military access information about students other than juniors and seniors?

Yes. While the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Education stated that the military is entitled to information about juniors and seniors, this does not stop the military from requesting information about freshmen and sophomores. In fact, the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act allows the military to get directory information on any and all students. Dante should opt out if he does not want his records given to the military. 113


BeNOW database

In 2003, the Pentagon took over several recruiting databases managed by military agencies. In 2005, the Pentagon proposed the creation of a more expansive database for recruiting purposes. This database will include information on students ages 16 - 18, current college students, and those who have registered with the Selective Service System as required for 18-year-old males. In addition to name, address, and telephone number, this database also includes information on ethnicity and areas of study. There is no ability to opt out of this database; however, a student can request that his information be put into a “suppression list” by writing to the Department of Defense.


The Last Word

As a student, you have the power to make change. Student activists all over the country have been successful in challenging school policies or actions that violate the Constitution. You should consider finding ways to educate students about the issues that you feel are important through community organizations or study group.

If you think that your rights as a student have been violated, you might want to consult a parent or guardian. Or, if you prefer, seek out a teacher, counselor, or even your principal. For outside help, consider contacting a lawyer or the ACLU of Utah.

We hope that this guide has helped you to understand some of the basic civil liberties issues that affect students. For more information, and for updates on your evolving legal rights, visit our website at www.acluutah.org.



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