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 Effective today, Hernandez has been withdrawn from the school and will be expected to report to another area school on Tuesday.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.”