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Judge Rules Texas School Permitted to Force Students to Wear Location Devices
On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that a public school district in the state of Texas can require its students to wear locator chips when the students are on the campuses of the district, according to a report from Reuters.
The ruling was issued by United States District Judge Orlando Garcia, who said that the San Antonio Northside School District is allowed to expel Andrea Hernandez, a sophomore at Jay High School. She was expelled from the school because she refused to wear the locator chip, which all students are required to wear while on school property.
Hernandez had asked that the district be blocked from expelling her from school as the case moved through the federal court system. The judge refused her request. One of the groups opposing the use of the locator chips, which are radio frequency identification (RFID), is the American Civil Liberties Union.
“We don’t want to see this kind of intrusive surveillance infrastructure gain inroads into our culture,” ACLU senior policy analyst Jay Stanley said. “We should not be teaching our children to accept such an intrusive surveillance technology.”
The policy of the district for the RFID has been criticized by conservatives, who claim that it is ‘big government’ monitoring people and getting rid of their privacy rights and liberties. Hernandez was represented by The Rutherford Institute, a conservative policy center in Virginia. The group said that the ruling violates Hernandez’s constitutional right to privacy and said they would appeal the ruling.
The district in question is the fourth largest in Texas and it has over 100,000 students. It said that it is not trying to track or regulate the activities of the students or to spy on them either. Pascual Gonzalez, a district spokesman, said that the district and Northside are using the RFID to locate students who are in the building but not in class when the bells ring throughout the day.
Law in Texas counts a student as present for purposes of handing out state aid to education funds based on the number of students in class when the day begins each morning. Northside claims that it has been losing $1.7 million per year because of students loitering in the hallways or stairwells when the morning bell rings.
Gonzalez noted that the technology works just inside the building, that it cannot track the movements of students and that it does not allow the students to be watched by third parties. Hernandez and her father have until the beginning of the spring semester to decide if they are going to accept the policy, which would permit her to stay at the school. The school is a magnet school. If she does not accept, she will return to her home campus within the district, which does not require the chips.