Court Case Involving Student From Northside ISD May Allow Tracked Students To Opt-out
Update (Nov. 28, 2012): Court hearing has been moved to Federal Court - date to be determined.
A dispute between the Northside Independent School District and a John Jay High School student who refused to wear a tracking ID could be settled in court on Wednesday.
The case could set a precedent on whether or not students at Northside ISD can be forced to wear the tracking ID badges the district uses to locate students and take attendance. The program is called the 'Student Locator Project' and is planned for other NISD schools if it proves successful.
Andrea Hernandez attends Jay’s Science Magnet and is basing her refusal to wear the ID on religious grounds. Her attorney, John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute – a civil liberties organization – claims her constitutional rights are being violated.
"They’re (the Hernandez family) evangelical Christians and there are millions of evangelical Christians across the country that feel that any kind of tracking device like this is the so called 'mark of the beast' which means they would be forced to worship a false god," Whitehead said.
Whitehead said Hernandez was denied library and cafeteria services and some extracurricular activities for refusing to use the ID. Northside ISD spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said the district instead offered her an ID without the tracking chip.
"Both the student and her father refused that and for that reason she received a letter reassigning her back to her home campus," Gonzalez said.
In response to the relocation, Whitehead obtained a restraining order and Hernandez is being allowed to remain at Jay without having to wear the ID until the court decision.
"What we’re hoping to establish here is the right of students like Andrea who have strong religious views or privacy issues with these chips that they would be able to opt out of the program," Whitehead added.
The Rutherford Institute said they plan to appeal should they lose the case.