Give peace a chance
The Pinellas school district has lifted a 2-1/2 year ban that has kept anti-war groups off the county's high school campuses. Pinellas becomes the first large district in Florida to adopt an "access to students" policy.
The School Board acted after the Veterans for Peace organization cited legal precedent showing that excluding it from school campuses would constitute "viewpoint discrimination." The challenge, board member Carol Cook said, was crafting a plan that would satisfy the veterans without putting the district at odds with a provision of the federal No Child Left Behind law that requires districts to provide students' names, telephone numbers and addresses to military recruiters who ask for them.
Cook said she's pleased with the new policy.
"The good thing about this is that it's put limits on what military recruiters can and cannot do as well," she said. "Our kids are here to be educated. They're not here to be a captive audience for any group."
The Veterans for Peace plan to waste no time taking advantage of the new rule.
The group's organizers tell the Gradebook they'll be training activists in how to talk to students beginning right away. They plan to make their first school visits next month.
To read this morning's story, which didn't make it to our web site until just recently, click here. To read an ACLU press release from when the issue first arose in 2006, click here.
- Donna Winchester, Pinellas education reporter