Politics

July 15, 2013

Portland schools: LePage wrong about military recruiters

The district is now the third to say Gov. LePage is not correct by claiming uniformed military recruits are being barred from certain schools.

By Noel K. Gallagher ngallagher@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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click image to enlarge

In this March 2012 file photo, U.S. Army recruiters Sgt. Stephen Wallace (left) and Sfc. Brandon Didier talk with students at the Portland Arts and Technology High School. Gov. Paul LePage’s claim that military recruiters aren’t allowed to wear their uniforms at Yarmouth High School is untrue, according to the principal of the school.

John Ewing

Related Documents

PDF: Military recruiter's May complaint about school access

Rogers said he did not know where that happened, or when, and no one had asked Hannibal to provide those details. He said Hannibal got the report from one of the military recruiters who report to him.

Rogers said the Army National Guard would not provide additional information or allow interviews with Hannibal or individual recruiters, because they "don't want to get in a back-and-forth" with the schools.

Hannibal told the Portland Press Herald in June that he could not remember details of the email.

Rogers and others have said they are reluctant to identify schools or provide specifics because recruiters don't want to jeopardize their relationships with school officials.

LePage has raised the issue repeatedly in the last week, calling the defeat of L.D. 1503 "one of the most appalling moves of the session" and suggesting it was a political act aimed at his administration.

Last week, LePage mailed handwritten notes to the homes of all of the Democrats who opposed the bill, including Rep. Charles Priest, D-Brunswick, who was awarded the Bronze Star Medal during the Vietnam War.

LePage has said he plans to reintroduce the bill when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

Public schools are prohibited from barring military recruiters because of a provision in the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Schools risk losing federal funding for refusing to release students' contact information to military recruiters or prohibiting recruiters from visiting.

Rogers said Monday that Hannibal, the National Guard officer, wrote his email in response to a request from Bowen.

Bowen said someone who visited the military processing station on Congress Street in Portland heard anecdotes about recruiters having access problems at high schools, and he wanted to know if that was true, Rogers said.

"The sergeant major talked to some of his folks, five or so ... (and) there have been instances over the year where there have been restrictions of access," Rogers said.

Hannibal said in his email to Bowen that the seven high schools in southern Maine that allowed "minimal access" were Oak Hill in Wales, Noble in North Berwick, Wells, York, Kennebunk, Gorham and Yarmouth.

He said recruiters usually visit a school twice a year.

Hannibal wrote that Yarmouth and Portland high schools allow parents to remove their students' names from a master list of junior and senior students before the list is distributed to recruiters.

He also wrote that "individual high schools" won't let recruiters wear uniforms -- but he didn't name any schools.

Jonathan Poole, a Yarmouth High graduate who recently got his commission from the Naval Academy, said he has been welcomed at Yarmouth and other Maine schools during visits for potential recruits. Yarmouth High was particularly supportive, he said.

Rogers said recruiters have been told that they need to immediately report any access problems to commanding officers and to the school.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

ngallagher@pressherald.com

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