by Kristina Puga 07/18/2013
Remember the girl who got expelled from John Jay High School in San Antonio, Texas for refusing to use her tracking ID card due to religious reasons?
Well, the Northside Independent School District confirmed this week that it has ended its controversial Radio Frequency Identification System, or RFID, tracking system. The initiative was supposed to increase student attendance, but ended up triggering a debate on privacy, and even religious beliefs.
For Andrea Hernandez, the sophomore who got expelled in January for refusing to use her RFID ID, the badge signifies the “mark of the beast” — as described in Revelations 13 in the Bible — and is considered sinful.
Northside ISD Drops Student Tracking Program
San Antonio Express News
BY FRANCISCO VARA-ORTA : JULY 15, 2013
Northside Independent School District officials confirmed on Monday that they have ended its controversial student tracking system using ID badges, which triggered a national firestorm of debate on privacy, religious and health grounds.
Northside's school board in May 2012 approved the pilot program, which uses radio frequency identification, or RFID, technology chips inserted in students' identification badges to locate them on campus. School officials can see where the students are by logging into a district computer that uses chip readers installed throughout the campus to detect their badges.
The project was approved only for use last school year at two campuses that had the low attendance rates: Jay High and Anson Jones Middle schools, totaling 4,200 students. Northside could have eventually expanded it to cover nearly 100,000 students at its 112 campuses.
The school district faced nearly instantaneous online criticism, and later in-person protests, from various civil liberties groups after announcing the proposal. Add to that a lawsuit from a student who refused to wear the badge for religious reasons, two lawmakers that unsuccessfully tried to get it banned in Texas schools, and a website hacking attempt from someone claiming to be with the international activist group Anonymous.
Victory: San Antonio Public School Officials End RFID Tracking Program, Citing Civil Liberties Lawsuit, Negative Publicity, Low Participation Rates
The Gilmer Mirror
July 16, 2013
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — After a drawn-out battle waged in court and within the community, school officials with the Northside Independent School District have announced their decision to stop using a student tracking program that relied on RFID tracking badges containing tiny chips that produce a radio signal, enabling school officials to track students’ location on school property. According to school officials, the decision to cease the “Student Locator Project” was due in part to low participation rates, negative publicity, and a lawsuit by The Rutherford Institute. Rutherford Institute attorneys had filed suit against school officials in November 2012 on behalf of Andrea Hernandez, a sophomore at John Jay High School’s Science and Engineering Academy, who was expelled from the magnet school in January 2013 after objecting to the badges based on religious freedom and privacy concerns. The question of whether Hernandez will be permitted to return to John Jay has yet to be resolved.
RFID School Tracking Badges Scrapped In Texas: Controversial Program Had Virtually No Effect On Student Attendance, Says Northside ISD
International Business Times
By Christopher Zara July 16 2013
After much ballyhoo over its supposed ability to improve student safety and attendance, a controversial program to electronically track children in a Texas school district is now being deemed a failure.
A spokesman for San Antonio’s Northside Independent School District confirmed with IBTimes Tuesday that the district is scrapping its much-maligned program, which uses RFID-enabled identification badges to track students and monitor attendance. Pascual Gonzalez, the district’s executive director of communications, said the program will not proceed past the one-year pilot stage, not so much because of legal or privacy concerns, but because it had virtually no effect on student attendance.
Northside school officials originally argued that “Smart ID” tracking badges would help the district meet its “legitimate need to easily identify its students for purposes of safety, security, attendance and funding,” but the results of the program have not justified that stance. Gonzalez said student attendance increased by only 0.5 percent on the high school campus where the program was tested. Results at the middle school campus were even lower, at 0.07 percent.