Maryland Students Suspended After Protesting Military Recruitment

Five high school students were suspended after staging a "die-in" in front of a Marine Corps recruiting booth during an on-campus job fair, one of the students said.

Bob Hayes, a junior at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, said he and four other students fell down in front of the booth, then passed out leaflets protesting the war in Iraq and the presence of military recruiters on school grounds.

A sheriff's deputy led two students away after they refused to move during their demonstration, Hayes said. Three others went willingly and were kept in the principal's office for about three hours, he said.

A school official confirmed that five students were disciplined Wednesday for distributing unapproved leaflets and partially blocking access to an adjacent booth.

"We do not suspend kids for protesting if they do it in the right way," said Hank Bohlander, an associate superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools.

The students were told they could return to school after their parents met Friday with school officials, Hayes said.

The protest followed the county school board's rejection earlier this year of student petitions seeking to bar military recruiters from campus.

Hayes, who had helped lead that effort, had argued that recruiters should be banned from school grounds because the military rejects openly homosexual people and uses misleading recruitment tactics.