Student expelled for refusing to wear RFID tracking chip badge

Summary:Taking a stand against location tracking, one student found herself expelled.

After a student protested a pilot RFID tracking system in San Antonio, lawyers are now moving to stop expulsion.

John Jay High School sophomore Andrea Hernandez was expelled from her high school after protesting against a new pilot program which tracks the precise location of all attending 4,200 students at Anson Jones Middle School and John Jay High School, according to Infowars.

Under the "Smart ID" program, ID badges have been issued with a tracking chip, which students must wear when attending school. The school badges, worn like a necklace, contain a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip and links to their social security number. This allows the school to track the student's location after leaving campus and for as long as the badge is on the student's person.

The scheme is now in full swing and all students must wear it, according to a letter sent by the school district to the student's parents and made public. The notice says:

"This "smart" ID card will transmit location information of students to electronic readers which are installed throughout the campus. This is so that we always know where the students are in the building.

After all, parents, you expect school staff to always know where your children are during the school day."

However, Hernandez continually refused to wear the ID badge -- which led to the school's administration offering a deal. She would be allowed to comply by wearing a badge that had the chip removed.

If the student accepted these terms, then her location would be untraceable, although the badge's barcode would still remain as an identifier. However, this would also still seem like she was complying with the project simply by wearing the badge, and so Hernandez refused. The result? Expulsion.

Civil liberties lawyers at the Rutherford Institute have told Infowars that in retaliation to the expulsion order, they are going to file a temporary restraining order petition to prevent the school from forcing Hernandez to attend another school.

"What we're teaching kids is that they live in a total surveillance state and if they do not comply, they will be punished," John Whitehead, Rutherford founder said. "There has to be a point at which schools have to show valid reasons why they're doing this."

Schools are often within their rights to expel students who refuse to conform to dress codes, which makes the student's reasons for not adhering to a non-chipped badge less effective. However, the student -- backed by her parents -- refused to wear the RFID-chipped accessory to due to a "violation of religious beliefs" and privacy infringement, which is something other parents and students are beginning to take a stand for.

Some students are objecting to the chips, and at another pilot school using the technology -- Anson Jones -- some parents "are taking out their kids, because they said, 'we don’t want to be part of this,'. That’s what they’ve reduced our children to -- inventory." Mr. Hernandez told the AFP.

In addition, activists from We Are Change/San Antonio and We Are Change/Texas Hill Country have helped the student's parents gain over 700 signatures to show there is opposition to the tracking technology.

In another new development, according to the AFP, two new bills filed in Austin, H.B. 101 and H.B. 102, would control the use of RFID in education statewide. The first would ban the use of RFID technology in school districts across Texas, and the second would allow it, as long as there is an opt-out program without detrimental consequences for the student.

Topics: Emerging Tech, Tech Industry

About

Charlie Osborne, a medical anthropologist who studied at the University of Kent, UK, is a journalist, freelance photographer and former teacher. She has spent years travelling and working across Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, and has been involved in the running of businesses ranging from media and events to B2B sales. Charli... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.