Usually kids get suspended because they're bullying, cheating, fighting or skipping too much school â€“ not because they refuse to wear a tracking device that monitors their whereabouts on campus throughout the day. However, student Andrea Hernandez of John Jay High School in San Antonio, Texas was suspended from classes for that very reason this November 2012. Hernandez and her family are against the use of the devices â€“ citing a disregard for privacy rights and religious beliefs.
Northside Independent School District in San Antonio started issuing students the RFID-chip-laden cards this fall semester. The ID badge is equipped with a bar code linked to the student's Social Security number. The purpose of the RFID chip is to monitor a student's movement on campus â€“ from the time they arrive at school until when they depart. While radio-frequency identification devices are nothing new in the technological world (seen in payment cards and passports), it was only recently that schools have started embracing the concept.
Hernandez' high school is using the student ID card badges implanted with a radio-frequency identification chip to keep track of student attendance as a way to secure school funding. The school wishes to identify a students' presence even if they arenâ€™t where they are expected to be. The Hernandez family is Christian and told InfoWars that their daughter (who is a sophomore at the school) will not wear the badge because it "signifies Satan, or the Mark of the Beast warning in Revelations 13: 16-18."
The use of such tracking devices may go against the beliefs of the Hernandez family, but they also bring up an issue of just how much Big Brother and other entities will push to track the actions and whereabouts of today's society. The policy of wearing the devices has no bearing on the level of education that a student will receive nor benefits the academic development of the student, but is simply concentrated on funding for the school. The device confirms the presence of a student on campus, but does not encourage a student to actually attend their designated classes. The issue at hand is not the educational wellbeing of a student, but instead, the role they play in acquiring funds for the school.
Hernandez was told that she could not continue to attend John Jay High School unless she wore the badge around her neck, which she refuses to do. She is not the only one feeling as if students are being forced to comply with a school program that has nothing to do with individual education, but instead focuses on helping the school's finances. In many cases, schools do not receive funds if they cannot prove that students are in attendance.
Using the tracking devices shifts the attention and concern of administration towards dollar amounts instead of test scores and student participation. Hernandez and her peers are now viewed in terms of a dollar amount or number that figures into the grand scheme of a budget. Where obtaining money in the past was seen as a way to better the education of students, administration are now viewing student as a means of obtaining money for the school system.
As issues of privacy, religion and student rights are involved, this case will certainly attract attention across the United States. Until hearings take place, a local Texas judge has tentatively blocked Hernandez' suspension pending further decisions in court.