OAKLAND, CALIF. -- When the staff of the Aegis, Oakland High School's student newspaper, decided to report about the military recruitment issue last year, faculty adviser Paul August strongly approved. He still remembered, with anger, what had happened to his daughter, Kristi, six years earlier.
Oakland, like many other school districts nationwide, sold names and telephone numbers of graduating seniors to local recruiters. August said his daughter "came to me, almost in tears, and said, 'Dad, can you get these people to stop talking to me?' "
As a result, the Oakland school board, determined to wash its hands of involvement in sending young Americans to war, has ended the flow of names to military recruiters, which anti-war school leaders said they expect will encourage educators around the country.
"San Francisco has a resolution up already," said Sheila Jordan, an Oakland school board member and sponsor of the policy that was adopted 7 to 0 on Jan. 9. "I've gotten calls from all over the country, and most of the response is very positive."
There are signs of new sensitivity to the issue elsewhere. Peter Habenicht, community affairs director for public schools in Richmond, Va., said he recently stopped releasing names and numbers because he felt that it violated student privacy rights.
Jackie Goldberg, president of the Los Angeles school board, said, "I don't think we should be selling our list" and added that she and board member Rita Walters had asked the superintendent to investigate.
In the Washington area, Montgomery, Prince William and Arlington counties give or sell student names to recruiters, and officials of the school districts said they consider the policy a legitimate job placement tool and have had few complaints.
"There is some good in this," said Lloyd Farley, supervisor of guidance and related services for Prince William schools. "We don't dismiss it."
In Prince William and Arlington, school officials send a form home that allows parents to forbid release of personal information about their children to outside organizations. According to state regulations, if the form is not returned in 15 days, the school may release names, addresses, telephone numbers and other information.
A similar California system offended several students in Oakland, who told their school board that they felt harassed by military calls. "Since August, I was getting calls at least twice a week from some military services," said Joseph George, a senior at Oakland High. "It's a violation of privacy," senior Kim To said. Wendy Sui, a junior, said, "I don't think it's fair for the school to send names."
Air Force Maj. Doug Hart, a Defense Department spokesman, said that acquiring student names and numbers has been a common recruiting device for years and that he knows of no state that forbids the practice.
California law allows school districts to sell the lists to recruiters for the military, colleges or businesses, although the fees are usually small (in Oakland, $150 for 2,000 names). The Los Angeles Unified School District, second largest in the country, charges 3 cents a name, or about $1,650 for names of all juniors and seniors.
Jordan said she was unaware until recently that the district was selling names. She said board members are concerned that their district -- 57 percent black, 18 percent Asian and 15 percent Hispanic -- had become a prime target for military recruiters taking advantage of minority difficulties finding civilian employment.
The resolution that she introduced with board member Toni Cook, whose soldier son-in-law is in Saudi Arabia, bars release of information to any military recruiter "without the express written consent of a parent or legal guardian."
August, who also teaches advanced placement English, said many teachers lobbying for the resolution "had this beautiful child in front of them whom they didn't want to turn into a rotting corpse on the desert."
He said he was pleasantly surprised by the blistering language in the resolution, which said:
"The steady buildup of military spending drains resources away from our schools and other institutions that provide for the general welfare of the American people. A disproportionate number of Blacks and Hispanics -- 38 percent -- are risking their lives in the Persian Gulf for a president whose recent veto restricted the ability of racial minorities to secure their full civil rights in the face of discrimination."