US school tag tracker project prompts court row

 
Screengrab of NISD webpage

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A court challenge has delayed plans to expel a Texan student for refusing to wear a radio tag that tracked her movements.

Religious reasons led Andrea Hernandez to stop wearing the tag that revealed where she was on her school campus.

The tags were introduced to track students and help tighten control of school funding.

A Texan court has granted a restraining order filed by a civil rights group pending a hearing on use of the tags.

ID badges containing radio tags started to be introduced at the start of the 2012 school year to schools run by San Antonio's Northside Independent School District (NISD). The tracking tags gave NISD a better idea of the numbers of students attending classes each day - the daily average of which dictates how much cash it gets from state coffers.

'Mark of the beast'

Introducing the tags led to protests by some school students at John Jay High School - one of two schools out of 112 in the NISD catchment area piloting the tags.

Ms Hernandez refused to wear the tag because it conflicted with her religious beliefs, according to court papers. Wearing such a barcoded tag can be seen as a mark of the beast as described in Revelation 13 in the Bible, Ms Hernandez's father told Wired magazine in an interview.

NISD suspended Ms Hernandez and said she would no longer be able to attend the John Jay High School unless she wore the ID badge bearing the radio tag. Alternatively it said Ms Hernandez could attend other schools in the district that had not yet joined the radio tagging project.

The Rutherford Institute, a liberties campaign group, joined the protests and went to court to get a restraining order to stop NISD suspending Ms Hernandez.

RFID chip Ms Hernandez refused to wear a name tag containing an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip

A district court judge has granted the restraining order so Ms Hernandez can go back to school and ordered a hearing next week on the NISD radio tag project.

The Rutherford Institute said the NISD's suspension violated Texan laws on religious freedom as well as free speech amendments to the US constitution.

"The court's willingness to grant a temporary restraining order is a good first step, but there is still a long way to go - not just in this case, but dealing with the mindset, in general, that everyone needs to be monitored and controlled," said John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute in a statement.

Mr Whitehead said student tagging and locating projects were the first step in producing a "compliant citizenry".

"These 'student locator' programmes are ultimately aimed at getting students used to living in a total surveillance state where there will be no privacy, and wherever you go and whatever you text or email will be watched by the government," he said.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 389.

    all the pupils need to do is give all their rf id tags to one pupil and the records will show they all turned up.
    therefore there is no real benefit to the school it proves nothing however it does allow big brother to try to track you from the cradle to the grave and how long before they decide to implant the chips at birth track you every second of your life then after that thought chips

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 388.

    The issue is a right to privacy. A right to not be monitored from cradle to grave. To avoid the unAmerican tendency to give control of our daily lives to the government. And what are they actually complaining about? The mark of the beast. THAT'S the issue? Doubly sad. So, if they change the tag so it doesn't resemble a barcode, everything is fine? Doubly sad.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 387.

    #385 Keith B

    The sad thing is that she's the only one protesting. A system like the one described can literally monitor all student movements within the school - whether it is used for that or not. The key problem though is that it is getting young people used to being watched and tracked - and without their choice or permission.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 386.

    Cor blimey! Another non-story just to slam the Yanks!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 385.

    "Wearing such a barcoded tag can be seen as a mark of the beast..... ". What childish nonsense. This is a case of a wilful, selfish girl who doesn't want to help the school authorities run their school more efficiently, and now (as is usual in America) the vulture-like lawyers have jumped in to raise hell and make money. The American legal system is an absolute joke.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 384.

    I don't believe this is truly a tracker. It's not the same as having a GPS hanging from your neck. It's more like a pass-card that records when that person passes through an access point, such as a doorway, but radio seems like magic (or black magic) to some people. Would she be happier carrying a more traditional pass-card with a magnetic strip?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 383.

    P.S. to my 378. You might not like her reasons, but the Constitution has fortunately been interpreted to extend freedom of religion (or principles) to include conscientious objection in some cases. I personally dislike and think dangerous the condemnation of other people's reasons when those other people are speaking for themselves and not forcing their worldview on the rest of the citizenry.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 382.

    No one should kid themselves about this kind of system, its akin to a form of slavery or imprisonment. We are gradually slipping into a society where we are all slaves to being watched and monitored and controlled by information. The real telling point will be when people start to feel uncomfortable when they are not being watched. Its already starting to happen.. Slavery in the name of Freedom.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 381.

    In reply to 28 (Sawboman): "[T]he school has a legal responsibility to know where [students] are in the school."

    Not so, and that's not the reason of this school district, which claims to use the tags only for attendance info. In my day, one went home for lunch w/out the knowledge of the administration. The school was liable for student safety on campus, but not for students' location per se.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 380.

    This stunt is outrageous. Just because they are under the age of 18 does not mean micro-cephalic bureaucrats can take such liberties with them. I view this as rotten as molestation. The mentality behind this system and of those accepting this system is broken. If parents and school officials have have failed in their responsibility, no tracker can replace the parenting and oversight that is lost.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 379.

    376.heirdoug

    My friend you do us 'Brits' a disservice as this is about as shallow as gets.
    The school used a modern tech based system to show empirical evidence of attendance (as opposed to readily forged registers0.
    it is to their credit that they failed to factor-in the possible religious implications. People fear what they do not understand.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 378.

    Should it disturb us that this student's grounds are religious? We may think them imaginary, but most rationalists don't grasp how much their view represents a *desire* that reality be so. Andrea implicitly holds it a violation of human freedom to regiment people for reasons of social/political control. She and rationalists both present coherent reasons for resisting administrative coercion.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 377.

    I'm not someone who thinks the gov't has nothing better to do than spy on your average citizen, but this is crazy. Texas can't monitor how many kids attend school by...taking attendance like the rest of the country? I would not send my child to a school that didn't have enough control to know how many kids were in their classes. This is pure insanity.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 376.

    This may be a little deep for you Brits, but being tagged like a cow or a fish is simply stupid. It's the teachers responsibility to turn in the numbers so that the school can get it's funding. The students should all just go home and be home schooled and let the school system fail completely.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 375.

    374.David H

    And nor will species 5618.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 374.

    370.GrowlyTiger
    12 Minutes ago
    366.David H
    Species 8472 has a dense genetic structure, with each cell containing more than a hundred times the genetic material of a human cell because of their triple-helix DNA structure.
    They are entirely immune to borg assimilation. : )
    ====
    Probably won't take kindly to tagging then :)?

    Good night from the country that tagged school children in 2007

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 373.

    368.SocialReject

    Actually I think you may have hit the nail on the head! One ring to rule them all...................Tyrants will ever protect you by stealing your freedom

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 372.

    I am glad this has caused such a storm over privacy, even if religion was invoked as the reason for stopping it. I am glad because in the UK we copy everything America does, so I wonder how long before it is attempted here. This should at least delays British plans for it.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 371.

    367. GrowlyTiger

    Probably, but then a grown man must be prepared to meet his maker any day. There is always an end. There has to be an end. I would sooner die free in spirit than live life in a cage for the mind and soul. I would never surrender my soul, not to big business, not to politics, not for wealth, not for power. I have seen too many wonders to ever buy into this materialistic society.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 370.

    366.David H

    A designation given by the Borg (the species' name referred to by Star Trek Online as the Undine, though the Hirogen refer to them as 'Fluidians'), Species 8472 has a dense genetic structure, with each cell containing more than a hundred times the genetic material of a human cell because of their triple-helix DNA structure.They are entirely immune to borg assimilation. : )

 

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