A federal judge has ruled in favor of the Northside Independent School District in a landmark case regarding the radio frequency identification student locator project at two of its schools.
In a 25 page decision, Judge Orlando Garcia denied 15-year-old Andrea Hernandez’s preliminary injunction requesting she remain at John Jay High School without wearing a badge similar to the district’s RFID program.
Now Hernandez has two choices. She can wear a chip-less ID card for uniformity in the school, or she can return to Taft.
Originally, she refused to participate in the Student Locator Project citing religions objections claiming the chip mirrored the “Mark of the Beast” in the Bible. The district offered her a badge without the chip – she refused that as well. Northside tried to remove her from the Jay science Magnet school, which started the lawsuit and restraining orders.
Northside spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said Garcia’s decision shows the district did make reasonable accommodation. Hernandez has until January 22nd to make a formal decision in writing whether or not to participate.
“She will stay at the magnet program and finish up her semester exams but she does have a decision to make,” Gonzalez said. Northside’s semester stretches into the second half of the school year rather than ending before winter break.
Family members involved declined to comment and calls to the Rutherford Institute, the family’s legal counsel, were not immediately returned. In a press release, the Institute said Garcia’s decision to call Hernandez’s objections a secular choice and not religious belief made the court an arbiter of what is and is not religious.
The Institute plans to appeal the decision.
Read the full judgment here: Hernandez v. Northside Indep. Sch. Distr.