Last year when Andrea Hernandez was issued a new “smart” Student ID embedded with an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip by John Jay High School officials, she refused to wear it. The San Antonio high school student claimed it was an invasion of privacy which also infringed on her religious beliefs.
In addition to the RFID chip, the ID included her name, photo and a bar code. It is designed to pinpoint the location of each student on campus, and track when they arrive and when they leave.
On behalf of Andrea Hernandez, the Rutherford Institute sent a letter to The Northside Independent School District (Texas) warning them not to force Andrea or any other student(s) to wear the RFID badges. Rutherford then filed for a preliminary injunction asking the court to prevent forcing students to wear the badges. It was denied.
The school district offered an accommodation, a badge for Andrea with the RFID chip and battery removed. The district stated that if Andrea did not wear the badge with no ID chip, she would have to leave her magnet school and return to her previous, non-magnet high school.
In November, Rutherford had the legal case removed (from the Texas state court system) to Federal Court.
On January 8, 2013, Federal District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that since school officials offered a badge without the RFID-chip, they are acting within their rights to force students to wear the ID badge or face expulsion. In his decision Judge Garcia stated “The accommodation offered by the district is not only reasonable it removes plaintiff’s religious objection from legal scrutiny all together.”
One of the main purposes for the smart student badge system is student safety. In light of recent events in Connecticut, one would think that this new system would be welcomed.
But, Andrea Hernandez and her family are not giving up. Yesterday, the Rutherford Institute filed an appeal to District Judge Orlando Garcia’s ruling.
The appeal asks that Andrea be allowed to continue to attend her science and engineering magnet school until the appeal is decided. The school district has given Andrea until January 18 to either wear the special badge with the RFID chip removed, or leave school.