Judge rules US student should wear ‘chip’ ID
CHICAGO - Agence France-PresseA federal judge has dismissed a Texas girl’s objection to locator chips in student ID badges at a public high school in a case that raises concerns about the erosion of privacy and civil liberties.
Andrea Hernandez, 15, and her father told school officials they oppose the use of locator chips on religious grounds. Officials at San Antonio’s Northside school district said they were willing to give her a chipless badge, but warned the straight-A student she would be expelled from her prestigious selective-enrollment school if she did not wear it.
She refused, saying the new badges are the “mark of the beast” and that to be made to wear one equates to forcing her to “fall in line” and endorse the program. Judge Orlando Garcia denied her request for an injunction preventing the district from sending her back to the neighborhood school in ruling Jan. 8.
Schools awarded for attendance
Schools are awarded funds based upon attendance and the chips allow administrators to count students as present even if they don’t make it to their homeroom because they’re chatting in the hallway with a friend. Since the ID badges are also used to purchase food in the cafeteria, check books out of the library and participate in after school programs, Andrea Hernandez was denied access to many school activities.
Hernandez’s lawyers have vowed to appeal, arguing that requiring her to wear the badge equates to unconstitutional “forced speech” and that it isn’t a judge’s place to second guess someone’s religious views.
“The issue in the case is whether or not people who disagree with these programs on religious or constitutional grounds can opt out,” said John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute civil liberties group helping Hernandez pursue the case.