FORT MYERS — UPDATE 03/24/2021 at 12:15 p.m.: The U.S. Army responded to our inquiry with the following statement:
"Texting potential applicants is part of routine outreach for U.S. Army recruiters. By law, high schools provide military recruiters with students' names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses, the same as they provide to colleges, universities and prospective employers. Recruiters will also set up booths in high schools, give presentations in classes and assemblies, make phone calls, post on social media, attend sports events, and participate in community activities – these are all efforts recruiters will use to reach those interested in learning more about an Army career."
ORIGINAL STORY: A mother in Fort Myers called the police after an unidentified man tried to text her daughter and set up a meeting.
After talking with officers, she found out it was actually a recruiter with the U.S. Army.
It turns out that recruiter got Kelly Kuchta's number through the Lee County School District, thinking he was texting her daughter. All it takes is a public records request for the Military to get the phone numbers of all the graduating seniors.
Kuchta said she initially didn’t pay the first text much attention.
“Honestly I thought it was a spam, until two days later when I got a follow-up text, and this text was now telling me to meet this individual at a certain location at a specific time," said Kuchta.
That individual was only identified as a “Sgt. G” with the U.S. Army, but Kuchta said she got really scared when she realized the sender was trying to message her daughter.
“I contacted the Fort Myers Police Department, because I said this person is contacting minors," said Kuchta.
Police went to the address in the text, and it took them to the U.S. Military recruiting office. The Lee County School District confirmed to Fox 4 that the Military got the numbers from the School District.
“The only reason it went through my cell phone is because I do not put my daughter’s cell phone number on any Lee County paperwork," said Kuchta.
In a statement, the School District responded saying "Parents have the ability to opt out and withhold their student's name from those requests when they fill out the required back to school paperwork in FOCUS at the beginning of every school year."
But Kuchta said she doesn’t remember being given an option.
“I’ve never seen anything that says the U.S. Military is going to pull your minor child’s cell phone information from this paperwork that you fill out. If you don’t want us to, put an "X" here. I’ve never seen that," said Kuchta.
Kuchta hopes more parents learn about the program, so they’re not as blindsided as she was.
“They’re contacting them via text, asking them to meet them at the recruiting agency without parental consent, without parental knowledge. To me, that is very scary," said Kuchta. “It’s not okay, and it has to stop."