Judge Allows Northside ISD to keep tracking devices in student IDs

A federal judge has upheld a ruling
that gives Northside ISD the right to make its students wear tracking devices
in their student IDs.

Andrea Hernandez filed an appeal on
Jan. 10 to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to be permitted to stay at
John Jay High School while her case against the school’s new ID program is
ongoing, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Hernandez, a 15-year-old student at
John Jay High School in Northside ISD, through the help of her father Steven
Hernandez and the Virginia-based nonprofit civil liberties organization
Rutherford Institute, filed a lawsuit against the magnet school concerning the
school’s mandatory student ID program.

The program, which is also being
implemented at Jones Middle School, requires all students to have their new “smart”
student IDs on their body at all times during school hours. The IDs allow the
school to track the location of the students through a “radio frequency
identification,” or RFID, tracking system. The schools, which have a recorded
problem with student attendance, as well as having their state funding
partially linked to attendance, launched the program as a potential means to
solve the problem.

 The district stated that the program allows the school to
find students who are on campus but who missed morning roll call. The RFID can
determine students’ locations at any time, as well as provide a general
electronic history of their locations throughout the day, capabilities that
will allow the school to increase attendance and improve school safety. Hernandez
claimed otherwise, however, saying the new IDs were in invasion of her
constitutional rights, particularly her religious rights.

Orlando Garcia, the federal judge in
the case, disagreed, citing safety concerns over Andrea Hernandez’s claims.
Further, the judge agreed that the district had the right to transfer Hernandez to Taft High School if she chose not to wear the ID, which
Hernandez has done as a form of protest since the program went into effect.

As the case and appeal are ongoing,
so too are the costs to the district and taxpayer, which are currently
estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. The district has stated to
the Express-News that they plan to recuperate the costs through the plaintiff.