Victory: San Antonio Public School Officials End RFID Tracking Program

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — After a drawn-out battle waged in court and within the community, school officials with the Northside Independent School District have announced their decision to stop using a student tracking program that relied on RFID tracking badges containing tiny chips that produce a radio signal, enabling school officials to track students’ location on school property. According to school officials, the decision to cease the “Student Locator Project” was due in part to low participation rates, negative publicity, and a lawsuit by The Rutherford Institute. Rutherford Institute attorneys had filed suit against school officials in November 2012 on behalf of Andrea Hernandez, a sophomore at John Jay High School’s Science and Engineering Academy, who was expelled from the magnet school in January 2013 after objecting to the badges based on religious freedom and privacy concerns. The question of whether Hernandez will be permitted to return to John Jay has yet to be resolved.

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Northside ISD cancels student ID tracking program

SAN ANTONIO - The Northside ISD has decided to not to continue or expand its controversial student ID badge tracking program that resulted in a lawsuit filed by a student.

Northside ISD Spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said the one year pilot program, tested at Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School, failed to meet its three goals.

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Community to break silence on student surveillance badges

Community to break silence on student surveillance badges

Broad coalition to host Q&A on NISD tracking program

 

SAN ANTONIO – The electronic monitoring of nearly 4,000 San Antonio students is a hot button issue which has left many local residents and parents concerned.

From the ACLU to the Tea Party, people are asking questions about the Northside Independent School District’s controversial method to electronically tag and track students’ daily movements — moment by moment — throughout the hallways, classrooms, restrooms, and locker rooms. What’s more concerning, these active RFID tracking devices can be used (and abused) off campus.

So far, the response from Northside ISD has been to expel students who refuse to be tracked and to silence any possible debate in public board meetings.

A community forum to discuss the new mandatory radio-frequency identification (RFID) badges (“Smart ID”) is set for 6:30pm on Monday, February 25th, at the Leon Valley Community Center located at 6421 Evers Road.

Members of the press are no doubt familiar with high-profile national headlines involving the administrative removal of John Jay High School Engineering Academy student Andrea Hernandez. Hernandez and her family recently resorted to legal action to defend her decision to not wear an RFID badge.

“This goes far beyond one student and her crusade to defend her personal privacy as well as her freedom of speech and of religion,” said Heather Fazio, Executive Director of Texans for Accountable Government. “John Jay High is one of two schools in the Northside ISD participating in the “Smart ID” pilot program, but board members are considering the idea of going district-wide. So if we want to prevent the tagging of our students like cattle, we must raise our voices now!”

Texans for Accountable Government (TAG) is teaming up with a wide variety of organizations and individuals to educate the community about RFID technology and to answer questions parents may have.

 

Scheduled presenters at the forum include: 

*Dr. Katherine Albrecht — a Harvard graduate who has done extensive research on RFID

*Mike Wade — RFID manufacturer contracted with NISD

*Matt Simpson – Legislative Liaison for the Texas ACLU

*Salvatore A Apicelli (Sal) — Chair of the San Antonio Tea Party’s Education Committee

*Dr. Laura Pressley – Public Health advocate and RF (radio frequency) researcher

*Moderated by Joseph Fenity, former NBC News journalist.

 

The second half of the event will offer attendees and the media an opportunity to ask questions of the presenters.

In the interests of objectivity and a balanced discussion, all NISD board members have been invited to participate, in addition to the Principals of the schools which have implemented this pilot program, as well as the NISD superintendent, Dr. Brian Woods.

“Isn’t that what a pilot program is for?” said Heather Fazio, TAG’s Executive Director. “We hope everyone — whether in support of the badges or against them — will come and speak up at this forum, so that parents, students, teachers, and administrators have all the facts they need to reach a rational conclusion.”

To schedule an interview, or for more information, contact Heather Fazio at 512-825-9142.

MORE INFO:

* ChipFreeSchools.com — advocating the removal of RFID badges from school campuses.

* TAGTexas.org — trans-partisan, grassroots activists working to defend individual privacy and liberty.

* NISD.net/StudentLocator – NISD’s website dedicated to pilot program

Local journalist signs on as event moderator

SAN ANTONIO — An independent news reporter with deep roots in San Antonio will serve as moderator of Monday evening’s panel discussion about Northside Independent School District’s controversial student RFID (radio frequency identification) tracking program.

Joseph Fenity, currently a Texas-based national correspondent for Sirius XM Radio, says he’s both honored and excited to be hosting such an important community event.

“Up until now, I don’t think a platform has been provided for parents and students to get their questions answered about these new ID badges. This Monday night is going to be a time when a lot of questions may finally be answered. I’m really proud to have been asked to moderate this important community debate,” Fenity says.

Fenity, who spent the last decade in radio and TV news, was working at a San Antonio TV station when Northside first launched the program. He says there was confusion and concern.

“When Northside launched their Student Locator Project, our newsroom received more calls and emails than I could even count. There were so many questions, opinions and conflicting answers about this whole RFID tracking technology program. My hope is that come Monday night the community gets those answers they’ve been looking for.”

While some in the community are slamming the radio frequency ID badges as invasive, others, including Northside ISD, are adamant the smart technology is simply keeping thousands of their students safe.

Despite the issue becoming a hot button topic, Fenity says he’s confident everyone can agree on one thing.

“Whether you call it invasive or necessary, I think everyone can agree it’s definitely divisive and certainly interesting.”


Joseph Fenity

# # #

More information about the event: Texans for Accountable Government

More information about the moderator:  Joseph Fenity REPORTS

A word of thanks from the Hernandez Family…

Hello everyone, my name is Steven Hernandez and I wanted to personally thank everyone who has supported us in our fight against Northside Independent School District (NISD).

My daughter has been deeply touched by all the support she has gotten around the world and in the United States.  Andrea is so grateful to everyone that has come out to support her.  She wanted everyone to know that she doesn’t fight just for believers, but, for non-believers as well. She wanted everyone to know that she fights for the rights of all people and that what they have done to her here in San Antonio is just the first step of what’s to come.

Read the rest of the letter here…

School Officials Reject Request…Kick Andrea Hernandez Out of Magnet School

School Officials Reject Request for Accommodation, Kick Andrea Hernandez Out of Magnet School Over Religious Objections to RFID Tracking Program

January 18, 2013

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — In a phone call delivered near the end of the day before a long holiday weekend, school officials at John Jay High School informed Andrea Hernandez that they would not be granting her request to stay at the magnet school. Effective today, Hernandez has been withdrawn from the school and will be expected to report to another area school on Tuesday.

In keeping with a court order to provide school officials with a written decision as to whether or not she will agree to wear an RFID tracking badge to school, Andrea Hernandez had asked school officials at John Jay High School to allow her to continue her “education uninterrupted” by permitting her to use her old ID badge which “does not signify participation in a program which I believe conflicts with my religious beliefs.” The new badges, part of John Jay High School’s “Student Locator Project,” include tiny chips that produce a radio signal, enabling school officials to track students’ location on school property.

Hernandez, who was threatened with expulsion for refusing to wear a chipless RFID tracking badge based on her sincere religious beliefs that it represents the “mark of the Beast,” had her request for a preliminary injunction denied by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Western District of Texas. In coming to Andrea’s defense, Rutherford Institute attorneys alleged that the school’s attempts to penalize, discriminate and retaliate against Andrea violate her rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s obvious that John Jay High School has no interest in putting their students first, which is a sad reflection on our educational system,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “For our part, we hope that Andrea Hernandez will not be discouraged in her pursuit of justice. She’s a courageous young woman with strong principles, and we commend her for standing up for what she believes in. The case will definitely move forward now, and hopefully, we will eventually find justice in the courts.”

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Andrea Hernandez Stands Firm…

Andrea Hernandez Stands Firm, Asks School Officials to Respect Her Religious Objections to RFID Tracking Program, Let Her Use Old Badge & Stay in School

January 18, 2013

SAN ANTONIO, Texas —Complying with a court order to provide school officials with a written decision as to whether or not she will agree to wear an RFID tracking badge to school, Andrea Hernandez has asked school officials at John Jay High School to allow her to continue her “education uninterrupted” by permitting her to use her old ID badge which “does not signify participation in a program which I believe conflicts with my religious beliefs.” The new badges, part of John Jay High School’s “Student Locator Project,” include tiny chips that produce a radio signal, enabling school officials to track students’ location on school property.

Hernandez, who was threatened with expulsion for refusing to wear a chipless RFID tracking badge based on her sincere religious beliefs that it represents the “mark of the Beast,” had her request for a preliminary injunction denied by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Western District of Texas. In coming to Andrea’s defense, Rutherford Institute attorneys alleged that the school’s attempts to penalize, discriminate and retaliate against Andrea violate her rights under Texas’ Religious Freedom Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

“John Jay High School has been given an opportunity to do the right thing and take the high road by letting this young woman stay in school and accommodating her religious beliefs by letting her use her old badge—which is what she’s been doing for weeks now with no negative consequences. In the process, the school can send a message to the community that they’re willing to put the students first, which would be a win-win for the school,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “If they choose to kick Andrea out, they’ll give us no choice but to go back to court, which—win or lose—will still be a win for Andrea, because she won’t be forced to compromise her beliefs and she’ll learn a valuable, if painful, lesson about the price one must sometimes pay for freedom.”

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Update from Heather Fazio

Hello,

I’m Heather Fazio, Executive Director of Texans for Accountable Government (TAG), a trans-partisan PAC working to protect students from the mandatory use of RFID technology to track their location while on campus, among other local and state issues in Texas.

As you may know, the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio has launched an RFID Student Locator Pilot Program which uses ACTIVE RFID technology to track students with a “Smart ID.” After being shut down by NISD’s Board of Trustees, Andrea Hernandez (student rebel who objects to the program on religious grounds) has taken her grievance to the courts. She is represented by a local family/constitutional lawyer, Jerri Ward (a personal friend of mine and an outstanding local activist) via The Rutherford Institute.

The case was removed to Federal Court at the behest of NISD and unfortunately the judge ruled against Andrea last week. She’s filed an appeal with the 5th circuit asking for an injunction. We hope this injunction will be granted by January 22nd, the day she will have to decide whether to comply, compromising her sincere religious beliefs (which is NOT going to happen) or withdraw from the Science and Engineering Academy which she earned the right to attend.

Jerri and TRI are handling the judicial front of this battle, but now that the 2013 Texas Legislative Session has begun, it’s time to do work on the legislative front. Fortunately, Texas lawmakers are already on board, having introduced three bills to protect Texas students:

HB 101 (Rep. Kolkhorst): relating to the use of radio frequency identification technology to
transmit information regarding public school students. (Weak bill, only restricts use.)

HB 102 (Rep. Kolkhorst): relating to the use of radio frequency identification technology to
transmit information regarding public school students. (Strong bill, prohibits use.)

SB 173 (Sen. Estes): relating to the use of radio frequency identification technology to
transmit information regarding public school students. (Strong bill, prohibits use.)

I have a call into Rep. Kolkhorst’s office to schedule a meeting, and intend on doing the same with Sen. Estes. TAG plans to utilize the momentum we’ve generated at the local level to pass statewide legislation to protect Texas students. You can find more information about the work we’ve done at www.ChipFreeSchools.com.

I’m writing today to catch you up on the issue (in case you haven’t been following it), and ask for your support.

Please feel free to contact me via email or I can be reached on my cell phone (below). Thank you for your work to protect our people from the electronic police state being created in this once free nation.

In Love and for Liberty,


Heather Fazio
Executive Director
Texans for Accountable Government
512-825-9142

**Your Heart is Free…Have the Courage to Follow it**

Judge orders students to wear ‘Mark of the Beast’ ID badge

via RTAmerica

Published on Jan 9, 2013

A few months ago, Andrea Hernandez was expelled from her high school in San Antonio, Texas for refusing to carry an RFID student identification. Hernandez explained that the chipped ID was the “mark of the beast” and wouldn’t wear it due to religious beliefs and sued the school. Although the school removed the chip from the ID, a judge ruled against the student’s favor. Rutherford Institute President John Whitehead, the girl’s attorney, explains to RT’s Kristine Frazao.

Video here…

Rutherford Institute Asks Fifth Circuit for Injunction

January 11, 2013

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute are asking the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to prohibit Texas school officials from removing high school sophomore Andrea Hernandez from her current academic program at John Jay Science & Engineering Academy pending the outcome of her case. Hernandez, a 15-year-old Texas public school student, was essentially expelled over her refusal to wear a chipless RFID tracking badge based on her sincere religious beliefs that it represents the “mark of the Beast.”

The Rutherford Institute has already appealed a January 8 ruling by U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio denying Hernandez’s request for a preliminary injunction on the grounds that the sophomore’s refusal to wear the chipless tracking badge is “not grounded in her religious beliefs” and is a “secular choice rather than a religious concern.” The badges, part of John Jay High School’s “Student Locator Project,” include tiny chips that produce a radio signal, enabling school officials to track students’ location on school property. In coming to Andrea’s defense, Rutherford attorneys have alleged that the school’s attempts to penalize, discriminate and retaliate against Andrea violate her rights under Texas’ Religious Freedom Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Read more…