A student in a Texas public school district who called her student identification card the “Mark of the Beast” lost her federal court case Tuesday challenging her suspension for rejecting the radio-frequency identification chip implanted in the card she is forced to wear around her neck.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that the San Antonio Northside School District had the legal authority to expel 15-year-old sophomore Andrea Hernandez because she refused to wear the identification card, which is required of all students when on the school premises. Garcia also dismissed Hernandez’s request to prevent the district from expelling her from school while the case filters through the federal courts.
Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) devices have become a familiar component of today’s electronic age, now found in passports, library cards, and various types of payment cards. In addition to an expectation that they’ll eventually replace barcode labels on consumer goods, schools across the country are beginning to utilize them as well, sparking protests from students and parents who reject the practice as an intrusion of privacy.
The identification tags used in the San Antonio district emit a radio signal that links to the students’ Social Security numbers, allowing the wearer’s precise location to be tracked throughout the day. Despite the 290 surveillance cameras already installed at Jay High School and Jones Middle School, the RFID cards will grant school officials the ability to track students’ whereabouts at all times, even when they want to use the restroom.
When the Northside School District had initially introduced the system, officials cited their state-financed budgets, and how they are tied to average daily attendance. If a student is not seated in class during morning roll call, the district does not receive daily funding for that student, because the school has no way to verify that the student is in the building. But with RFID tracking, pupils not at their desk, but tracked on campus, are pinpointed as being in school that day, allowing the district to incur its daily allotment for that student.
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