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ASD puts conditions on military recruiters' return to Anchorage schools

  • Author: Tegan Hanlon
  • Updated: May 31, 2016
  • Published October 27, 2014

The Anchorage School District on Monday outlined what meetings military recruiters must attend and what information they must provide before they'll be permitted back on school grounds.

For the Alaska Army National Guard, that process will include additional steps, said Ed Graff, district superintendent.

Last week, Graff halted all military recruiting at ASD schools indefinitely in the wake of media reports on leaked investigative files that describe years of sexual assault, harassment and other misconduct in the Alaska Army National Guard, some accounts involving recruiters and students from Dimond High School. The Matanuska-Susitna School District soon followed ASD's lead and temporarily banned military recruiting.

At a press conference Monday, Graff said he met earlier in the day with military recruiters. They discussed student safety and reporting procedures and established what recruiters must do before they can return to ASD, he said.

"We had a good conversation about our most important asset -- our students -- and it was very positive," Graff said. "The big takeaway for me is that we're all in agreement about the importance of student safety and this was the first part of a continuing conversation we're going to be having with military recruiters."

Graff separated the military recruiters into two "timelines" Monday: one for the Alaska Army National Guard and one for all others.

All must submit answers to a list of questions Graff provided Monday, said Heidi Embley, district spokeswoman. The questions probe into recruiters' protocols, training and management. Graff must approve their responses, she said.

Then, all branches -- except the guard -- can begin meeting with school principals and eventually start scheduling recruiting visits, Embley said.

Graff said he will hold additional meetings with the guard.

"Most certainly, that conversation that I'm having with the Army National Guard is going to take on a different timeline than the rest of the branches," he said. "I think that in light of the allegations that are out there, there are questions we still have to investigate and conversations that have to take place."

He said he did not have an estimate Monday on when military recruiting would resume at ASD.

At the Matanuska-Sustina School District, superintendent Deena Paramo will meet with all branches of the military Tuesday morning and is expected to issue a statement on the status of the recruiting ban soon after, said Catherine Esary, district spokeswoman.

"Again, it's just a temporary ban for us," Esary said.

Lt. Col. Charles Knowles, commander of the Alaska Army National Guard's Recruiting and Retention Battalion since June 2012, wrote in a statement Monday that the guard will meet with Graff on Thursday "to follow up on the district's expectations of our recruiters."

"We will take all the necessary steps to reassure the superintendent and ASD leadership that we will ensure the safety and respectful treatment of all the district's students," Knowles wrote.

Kalei Rupp, director of communications for the state's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, said Knowles sent an email Monday to Alaska's 54 school districts.

In the email, provided to Alaska Dispatch News by Rupp, Knowles wrote that the individuals named in media reports have been removed from his battalion, adding that he would be "personally contacting" the districts to see if they had any concerns with recruiter visits.

"We realize we are guests on your campuses, and the safety and proper respect of your students and staff during any recruiter interaction, whether at school or anywhere else for that matter, is nonnegotiable," he wrote.

Knowles has estimated that the guard enlists between 125 and 150 high school students in Alaska each year.

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