Commentary | In a decision that has frightening implications for the freedom of our nation and our children, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled today that the San Antonio Northside School District could expel sophomore Andrea Hernandez, 15, from the city’s John Jay High for refusing to wear her school identification badge, which is equipped with a RFID tracking device that pinpoints the students location at all times while on school grounds. Ms. Hernandez has the option to either accept the expulsion and attend another school that does not require the device or obey the court’s decision and wear the badge if she wishes to return to her original school.
The judge’s ruling only concerns the young woman’s status as a student while case works its way through the Federal Court System and is not a final decision on the case. The Judge commented that since the school agreed to remove the RFID chip from her school badge, her argument was moot, and she could wear the badge without violating her personal freedom or religious beliefs. Hernandez had been attending John Jay High under a temporary restraining order until today’s decision from the court.
The Texas sophomore was expelled in September, 2012 after the badges were introduced in two San Antonio Schools as part of a pilot program. If the test is successful the school board has stated they intend to introduce the badges at all 112 San Antonio schools. The final program would involve forcing over 100,000 students to wear an RFID equipped badge for every minute of the school day.
While Andrea Hernandez and her parents filed their lawsuit on the grounds of the violation of the student’s religious freedom, the program has far reaching implications for the personal liberty of each and every American student. Prominent legal defense organizations, including the ACLU and the Rutherford Institute, have joined the fight against the San Antonio School Board on this extremely important debate over privacy and individual liberty.
There are several issues involved in this case including the actual reasons for the School board’s desire to impose these freedom choking devices on unwilling students. There is a strong financial incentive behind the use of the device; put simply the schools will receive more State and Federal money for increasing the number of bodies the schools can cram into the classrooms. The people who make this device and their supporters on the School Board claim tracking the student’s every move is the most effective way to increase school attendance and keep government dollars flowing.
Some legislators and school administrators would like to take the program a step further and require students to wear the device no matter where they are during school hours, even if they are at home or off campus. The advocates of the tracking device claim this would allow school truant officers to locate students who cut classes and force them to return to school. It should also be noted that the private company that makes the device stands to make an enormous profit if all 100,000 San Antonio students are ordered by the courts to wear this invasive device.
The ACLU spoke out strongly against the program. Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst for the ACLU stated his organization’s objection to forcing students to wear tracking devices:
“They pose direct privacy problems for students. They also raise the question what are we teaching our children, schools teach not only what they say but by example.”
“Are we creating a generation that is going to be acclimated to that kind of government tracking? Is that really something we want to do in America?”
Even the hacktivist collective Anonymous became involved in protesting the use of tracking devices when a young hacker attacked the San Antonio Northside Independent School District website to protest the expulsion of Ms. Hernandez and the plan to use devices in every San Antonio school. The unidentified hacker sent an email to the press to defend his actions, saying the School Board “is stripping away the privacy of students in your school.”
As the case winds its way through the slow moving American court system, a young student must decide if her personal liberty and religious beliefs must be sacrificed in order to continue her education. More than likely, Ms. Hernandez will already be in college by the time we see a resolution to the case. We can only hope the courts value our individual liberties more than the right of schools to treat our children like lab rats and criminals.
As a parent I will simply say this. I find the use of these devices to be an unconscionable violation of our Constitution and the founding principals of any free society. If my child were ordered to wear one of these devices, I would begin home schooling the very next day.
Our government thinks it is OK to monitor every single email sent in America. They think it is fine to use the NDAA to hold American citizens in military custody indefinitely without the right of trial, legal representation or even the notification of the next of kin. They think we should quietly accept a choice of being molested or irradiated in order to fly while TSA workers rummage through our belongings and steal us blind.
This is not the free America our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, aunts and uncles fought for and died to preserve. The time has come for each and every one of us to let our elected officials know we will not tolerate these intrusions on our liberty and vote them out of office when they disregard the will of their constituents. I refuse to become a sheep and let an oppressive government intrude into every aspect of my life and the life of my children. How much more freedom are we willing to surrender before enough is enough?
“I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” How about you, my fellow Americans?