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

February 25th, 2013 Public Forum on RFID Student Locator Pilot Program

In San Antonio’s Northside Independent School District (NISD), nearly 4,000 children have been issued “Smart ID” badges implanted with an active RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tracking device. NISD has refused to offer a public forum for parents to ask question and voice concerns, so TAG has organized one.

Leon Valley Community Center
6421 Evers Road
Monday, February 25th
6:30-8:30pm

Presentations will be offered by a number of subject matter experts, including Dr. Katherine Albrecht- a Harvard graduate who has done extensive research on RFID, Mike Wade- RFID manufacturer, and (tentatively) a representative from the Texas ACLU.

The second half of our event will offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions of our presenters.

All NISD board members (including Dr. Wood, Superintendent) have been invited to this event in addition to the Principals of the schools which have implemented this pilot program.

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**

Andrea Hernandez granted Temporary Restraining Order

After months of defense, Andrea Hernandez has now taken offensive, legal action to prevent the Northside Independent School District and John Jay High School Science and Engineering Academy from removing her from school based on her religious objection to the new RFID Student Locator Pilot Program.

On November 13th, just days before their scheduled Level II grievance meeting, Principals Harris and Sumpter issued a notice informing Andrea, and her father, that if her refusal to comply with the new pilot program continued, they would remove her from the educational program which she worked hard to participate in. This, of course, is in addition to their violation of her right to communicate freely with her peers when they prohibited her from peacefully distributing literature during non-school hours.

With the help of her lawyer, Jerri Lynn Ward, and The Rutherford Institute, Andrea was granted a Temporary Restraining order which commands that the school and district desist and refrain from the following:

1. Withdrawing Plaintiff from Academy, or otherwise prohibiting her from continuing in her current academic placement on account of her refusal to participate in the Student Locator Project;

2. Undertaking any other means, whether directly or indirectly, of intimidating or retaliating against Plaintiff as a result of Plaintiff’s:

a. Exercise of her right to adhere to her sincerely held religious beliefs and to be free from coercion to express approval of government programs by refusing to wear the Smart ID badge; and

b. Exercise of her protected free speech rights by peacefully distributing literature to her peers during non-school hours.

A hearing has been set for Wednesday, November 28th at the Bexar County Courthouse. Parents, students, and community members are encouraged to attend the hearing which will start at 9am. Supporters will rally at 8am in front of the courthouse. Bring your signs and be prepared to show the world that you stand with those standing up for themselves in the face of money grubbing school district officials.

Andrea Hernandez forcibly withdrawn from John Jay High School

John Jay High School has given Andrea Hernandez official notice that she will not be allowed to attend the Science and Engineering Academy as of November 26th (this Monday) IF she continues to refuse to support the RFID Student Locator PILOT Program, which still has no formal opt-out policy in place for families who object on religious grounds. This will NOT happen if Jerri Lynn Ward, Hernandez family attorney, has anything to say about it! TOMORROW (Wednesday, November 21st), Ms. Ward will file for a temporary restraining order forbidding JJHS from forcing Andrea out of school!!!

See a copy of the letter here.

Texas School District Reportedly Threatening Students Who Refuse Tracking ID, Can’t Vote For Homecoming

ACTION ALERT: Principals have announced that the RFID pilot program goes into strict enforcement TOMORROW, October 10th 2012. Any student who refuses to comply will face “consequences,” according to the principal.
What are those “consequences?” Call and ask!
http://www.nisd.net/studentlocator/contact

 

Source: Huffington Post

Weeks after Northside Independent School District in San Antonio rolled out its new “smart” IDs that tracks students’ geographic locations, the community is still at odds with the program.

The “Student Locator Project,” which is slated to eventually reach 112 Texas schools and close to 100,000 students, is in trial stages in two Northside district schools. In an effort to reduce truancy, the district has issued new student IDs with an embedded radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip that tracks the location of a student at all times.

The program officially launched October 1 at John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School. Without the badges — required to be worn around the neck — students cannot access common areas like the cafeteria or library, and cannot purchase tickets to extracurricular activities. WND reports that the district hasthreatened to suspend, fine or involuntarily transfer students who fail to comply and officials have noted that “there will be consequences for refusal to wear an ID card as we begin to move forward with full implementation.”

Parents and students from the schools spoke out against the project last month. But now, WND is reporting that schools are taking the restrictions one step further.

John Jay High School sophomore Andrea Hernandez refuses to use the new IDs, citing religious beliefs and instead sticking with her old badge from previous years, calling the tracking devices the “mark of the beast.” She tells Salon that the new badges make her uncomfortable and are an invasion of her privacy.

But to add to her restricted school grounds access, the teen says she was barred from voting for homecoming king and queen.

“I had a teacher tell me I would not be allowed to vote because I did not have the proper voter ID,” she told WND. “I had my old student ID card which they originally told us would be good for the entire four years we were in school. He said I needed the new ID with the chip in order to vote.”

If successful, the tracking program could save the district as much as $175,000 lost daily to low attendance figures, which in part determine school funding. Higher attendance could lead to more state funding in the neighborhood of $1.7 million. A statement on the school district’s website lays out the program’s goals: to increase student safety and security, increase attendance and offer a multi-purpose “smart” student ID card that streamlines grounds access and purchasing power.

While uncommon, RFID chips are not new to school IDs, according to Wired. Schools in Houston launched a monitoring program as early as 2004, and a federally funded preschool in California started placing RFID chips in children’s clothes two years ago. Numerous districts have also considered similar programs, but without making them mandatory.

In California, the Anaheim Union High School District is also in the midst of testing a GPS tracking program. From Salon:

NISD Board meeting on October 23!

Parents and students from the Northside ISD and surrounding communities will be attending the monthly NISD Board meeting on Tuesday, October 23rd beginning at 7pm.  Plan to arrive early if you would like to be added to the “Citizens to be Heard” list.  Here are a few helpful links:

Students from John Jay High School are leading this grassroots effort against the tracking of Northside ISD students via their Facebook page “Students Against RFID Tracking.”  Please take the time to like their page and give them words of encouragement in their endeavor!

 

Please Donate!

Our Children are NOT Inventory…Please contribute TODAY!

All funds raised for this effort will be used to reach out to parents and students about their rights and how to stand up for themselves.

 

 

School board members elected by the public – in May. Let’s vote them out!

They are elected by the public – in May. Let’s vote them out!

School board members are elected to a three-year term of office. On a 2-2-3 rotating basis, board seats are filled during the elections held in May. All board members are elected at-large. While candidates run for specific places, they do not represent specific geographical areas; rather, each represents NISD at large.

Following the annual election, the Board elects a president, vice-president and secretary to serve for one-year terms. Candidates to the Board of Trustees must conform to the requirements of the Texas Education Code.


Their mission? (They’re failing at it.)

Mission statement:
The Northside Independent School District will educate, lead, develop, and mold our young men and women to be leaders, stakeholders, and vital contributors to the community, state and United States of America. It is the job of our district to build a strong foundation in our youth. This group of individuals is our future, and we will take every measure to give them the best tools and skills to build a better tomorrow.
http://www.northsideisd.us/vimages/shared/vnews/stories/4c717700348aa/Employee%20HAndbook2012-2013.pdf


Hey, what about reaching out to FORMER board members and see if any would go on record as opposing this?

Former board members include:

  1. Jonathon Voelkel
  2. Johnny White
  3. Nathan Christian
  4. Michael King
  5. Raymond Smith
  6. Wayne Ward

 


Another avenue – inadequately certified teachers. (Just out of curiosity, are all of Andrea’s teachers certified? Steven: You have the legal right to ask – but wait til October to do so.)

Notification of parents regarding qualifications

Policy DK, EHBD:
In schools receiving Title I funds, the district is required by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) to notify parents at the beginning of each school year that they may requestin formation regarding the professional qualifications of their child’s teacher. NCLB also requires that parents be notified if their child has been assigned, or taught for four or more consecutive weeks by, a teacher who is not highly qualified. Texas law also requires that parents be notified if their child is assigned for more than 30 consecutive days to a teacher who does not hold an appropriate teaching certificate. This
notice is not required if parental notification under NCLB is sent. Inappropriately certified or uncertified teachers include individuals serving with an emergency permit (including individuals waiting to take the EXCET exam) or individuals who do not hold any certificate or permit. No later than the 30th instructional day after the date of assignment the superintendent or designee will send a written notice to parents. Information relating to teacher certification will be made available to the public upon request.


Conflict of Interest (possibly between board members and Wade Garcia?)

Policy BBFA, DBD
Employees are required to disclose to their supervisor any situation that creates a potential conflict of interest with proper discharge of assigned duties and responsibilities or creates a potential conflict of interest with the best interests of the district. This includes
the following:

  1. A personal financial interest
  2. A business interest
  3. Any other obligation or relationship

An employee with a substantial interest in a business entity or interest in real property must disclose the interest to the district prior to the award of a contract or authorization of payment. This is done by filing an affidavit with James Rice. An employee is also considered to have substantial interest if a close family member (e.g., spouse, parent, child, or spouse’s parent or child) has a substantial interest.

Gifts and favors
Policy DBD
Employees may not accept gifts or favors that could influence, or be construed to influence, the employee’s discharge of assigned duties. The acceptance of a gift, favor, or service by an administrator or teacher that might reasonably tend to influence the selection of textbooks may result in prosecution of a Class B misdemeanor offense. This does not include staff development, teacher training, or instructional materials, such as maps or worksheets, that convey information to students or contribute to the learning process.


Educator Obligations to Students:

3. Ethical Conduct toward Students

Standard 3.1 The educator shall not reveal confidential information concerning students unless disclosure serves lawful professional purposes or is required by law.

Standard 3.2 The educator shall not knowingly treat a student in a manner that adversely affects the student’s learning, physical health, mental health, or safety.


Standard 3.3 The educator shall not deliberately or knowingly misrepresent facts regarding a student.
Standard 3.4 The educator shall not exclude a student from participation in a program, deny benefits to a student, or grant an advantage to a student on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, national origin, religion, or family status.


Standard 3.5 The educator shall not engage in physical mistreatment of a student.
Standard 3.6 The educator shall not solicit or engage in sexual conduct or a romantic relationship with a student.

Standard 3.7 The educator shall not furnish alcohol or illegal/unauthorized drugs to any student or knowingly allow any student to consume alcohol or illegal/unauthorized drugs in the presence of the educator.
Source: http://www.northsideisd.us/vimages/shared/vnews/stories/4c717700348aa/Employee%20HAndbook2012-2013.pdf
p. 30-31


Definition of Harassment (from employee handbook, but the same language is probably in the student one)

Examples of prohibited harassment may include, but are not limited to, offensive or derogatory language directed at another person’s religious beliefs or practices, accent, skin color, or need for workplace accommodation; threatening or intimidating conduct; offensive jokes, name calling, slurs, or rumors; physical aggression or assault; display of graffiti or printed material promoting racial, ethnic, or other negative stereotypes; or other types of aggressive conduct such as theft or damage to property.

Source: http://www.northsideisd.us/vimages/shared/vnews/stories/4c717700348aa/Employee%20HAndbook2012-2013.pdf
p. 32