Updated A plan by a San Antonio school district to continuously monitor its students using RFID has run into legal problems after one of them took a stand against being forced to use the tracking technology.
Northside Independent School District (NISD) in San Antonio, Texas has spent over $500,000 on its "Student Locator Project," a lanyard worn around the neck that has both a bar code and RFID tag built in. Students need the lanyard to use the library or cafeteria, vote in school elections, and in some cases for toilet breaks, and it allows the school to track their every movement throughout the day.
Andrea Hernandez, a sophomore student at the John Jay High School's Science and Engineering Academy in San Antonio, has been effectively expelled from school for refusing to wear the tags, citing religious, privacy, and freedom of expression reasons.
The school offered to give her a special lanyard with the RFID tag removed, but she refused to wear this, either, as it would be taken as her supporting the system. The school also stopped her from passing out leaflets to other students regarding the locator project.
"I feel it's an invasion of my religious beliefs," she told InfoWars. "I feel it's the implementation of the Mark of the Beast*. It's also an invasion of my privacy and my other rights."
After a series of talks between the school, Hernandez, and her parents, her position at the science academy was "withdrawn" and she has been reassigned to another school. The family are now taking action against the school with the help of the Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group.
The lawsuit will put a spanner in the works for the RFID tagging scheme, since the NISD already has plans to roll out the tracking scheme to over 100,000 students under its remit. The school district is hoping the system will increase school attendance, and thus win it a grant of nearly $2m from the state government.
"This is about money, plain and simple," John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, told The Register. "School violence is falling and, as Bill Clinton pointed out, a public school is a very safe place for a child to be. It's all about getting funding from the RFID system."
The school has already installed over 200 CCTV cameras in an attempt to curb truancy, some of which have a live link directly to the local police department, Whitehead said. All of this, along with the RFID scheme, is paid for out of the education budget.
"What’s happening now is going to spread across the country," Whitehead said. "If you can start early in life getting people accustomed to living in surveillance society then in future it'll be a lot easier to roll these things out to the larger populace."
The school district was unavailable for comment. ®
* For those not of a religious bent, the Mark of the Beast is a reference to the Book of Revelation, which the author John claimed was God's description to him of how the world will end and Jesus will return to earth.
Revelation 13:16-18 says that followers of the Beast "receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads," which allows them to buy and sell goods. Certain biblical sects have taken this to mean RFID chips or identity cards.
Other non-believers think John was a bit too fond of funny mushrooms and shouldn't be taken too seriously.
It turns out Ms Hernandez will go to school after all following a judge's injunction over the case on Friday. A full hearing will come next week.