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Texas Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Ban use of RFID Badges to Track Students

On January 11, 2013 we published a blog post about the status of a lawsuit regarding the use of Smart (RFID) Badges in a Texas school district. While the appeal to a federal judge’s ruling continues, there has been a new development.

school%20bus%20%26%20child%2044980077-001.jpgTexas state representatives Lois Kolkhorst and Cindy Burkett have co-authored and introduced two bills, HB 101 and HB 102 which would prohibit the use of radio frequency identification technology (RFID) in public schools. They would also allow parents to opt out and prevent students from being punished for not participating in RFID programs.
Kolkhorst has introduced similar bills in previous legislative sessions which have failed to pass.

In addition to Burkett, she is also joined by state Senator Craig Estes. In response to the lawsuit against Northside Independent School District (NISD), Estes filed SB173 which also would prohibit the use of RFID technology in Texas schools.

School districts see this technology as having two primary benefits. First, it would aid school officials in locating every student in school during an emergency situation. It would also track attendance which has proven to increase school funding.

Two Houston area school districts have used the RFID technology with no major repercussions. They have also reported increased funding of hundreds of thousands of dollars by having more accurate attendance records.

On the other hand, Senator Estes stated “This RFID technology is very impressive when it comes to tracking cattle or products in a retail supply chain, but children aren’t products or cattle.”

Ultimately, whether or not any of these bills pass in Texas, this may be a battle to be settled by the US Supreme Court. Meanwhile, school districts will each have to weigh the benefits of student security and funding against the potential costs including litigation.

Additionally, it is conceivable that these RFID badges could also be used to track when and where students get on and off school busses. They could even be used to prevent a student from getting on the wrong bus or getting off at the wrong stop. These uses could eliminate another set of school district problems related to student safety and security.