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.

Read more here

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.

Read more here

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

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.”

Read more…

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.”

Read more…

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…

Rutherford Institute Files Appeal Challenging Federal Court’s Ruling

January 10, 2013

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have filed a notice of appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of a 15-year-old Texas public school student who 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’s appeal asks that Andrea Hernandez be permitted to continue attending the science and engineering magnet school housed in John Jay High School until the case is decided. The appeal comes in response to 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 RFID 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 Radio Frequency Identification (“RFID”) 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…

Judge rules in favor of NISD in high-tech badge case

SAN ANTONIO — A judge has ruled in favor of the Northside Independent School District in a lawsuit filed over student smart badges.

Andrea Hernandez’s parents filed a lawsuit against the district claiming a requirement that she wear a radio frequency ID badge violates her religious freedom. Northside ISD allowed Hernandez to return to school Monday without the RFID-equipped badge while waiting for the court’s decision.

Read more…

Federal Court Rules in Favor of Texas School’s Expulsion of Andrea Hernandez

January 08, 2013

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Declaring that a Texas student’s refusal to wear a chipless RFID tracking badge is “not grounded in her religious beliefs” and is a “secular choice rather than a religious concern,” U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio has denied The Rutherford Institute’s request for a preliminary injunction preventing school officials from expelling Andrea Hernandez until the case is decided.

According to the judge’s order, Hernandez, a sophomore in a science and engineering magnet school housed in John Jay High School, has until the end of the current semester to provide written notice to Northside Independent School District officials as to whether she will accept the school’s accommodation of wearing the Smart ID badge without a chip, which Andrea, a Christian, objects to on the grounds that it represents the “mark of the Beast.” The badges, part of the school’s “Student Locator Project,” include tiny Radio Frequency Identification (“RFID”) chips that produce a radio signal, enabling school officials to track students’ location on school property.

Read more…