Northside Independent School District (NISD) is facing legal consequences following the implementation of the “Student Locator Project.” The project requires students at John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School to wear an embedded radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip found in all student ID cards during school hours. A federal court is considering hearing a case against the school district filed by Andrea Hernandez, a student from John Jay High School.
Hernandez equates the ID cards to the biblical “mark of the beast” from the book of Revelation and refuses to wear it. The district attempted to have Hernandez transferred from her magnet school to another high school, but her parents requested a temporary injunction from the state court to keep her at John Jay.
According to a NISD statement, “Since the Jay High School student and her father are alleging a violation of the student’s federal constitutional rights, Northside ISD asked that the case be heard in federal court. The case that was scheduled to be heard in state court has been canceled and will now rest with a federal judge to make a ruling.
Heather Fazio of Texans for Accountable Government commented on the religious aspect of the case, saying, “This program and the expressed consequences with not falling in line with it have created a chilling effect in these schools in making them afraid to stand up for themselves. Now, I am not a Christian, but I understand the value in a free society where we respect the rights of others to walk with God however they see fit. This young lady and all of the children at these schools are being violated every day that this program is in effect.”
According to NISD, the purpose of the chips is to track the whereabouts of students when they are on campus in an effort to decrease truancy and keep students safe. However, the school district has met opposition from concerned parents.
In a letter to the parents of the affected students, Jones Middle School Principal Wendy Reyes explained that the “smart” ID cards transmit location information to electronic readers throughout the day.
“This is so that we always know where the students are in the building,” said Reyes, “After all, parents, you expect school staff to always know where your children are during the school day.”
In the same letter, Reyes said, “One additional feature of the new ‘smart’ ID card is that Jones attendance office staff will be able to manage attendance reporting more efficiently. By reporting increased attendance to the state, Jones Middle School will be eligible for additional funding.”
At a school board meeting in September, Fazio argued, “We are electrical beings. We have neurological functions that are interrupted and influenced by this radio frequency radiation. And I think that until we have a health-impact study that determines that it is safe for our children, we should not be subjecting them to experimental technology.”
According to who.int, “A number of epidemiological studies suggest small increases in risk of childhood leukemia with exposure to low frequency magnetic fields in the home.” However, the report stated that no definite cause-effect relationships have been found between electromagnetic fields like the ones emitted by RFID chips and illness. This disclaimer, however, is not justification for concerned parents.
Al Gerloff, a retired Air Force communications specialist and parent of a Jay High School student, wants NISD to conduct thorough studies to determine the health and environmental risks associated with RFID technology. At a board meeting, he asked, “Can NISD afford the possible legal liabilities associated with RF radiation illnesses imposed on NISD students and staff?”
No date has been set for the federal case involving Hernandez and NISD and until the courts decide otherwise, NISD students will have to continue wearing tracking devices to school or risk expulsion.