A student in a Texas school district has been told she is to be expelled for refusing to wear a student ID badge that essentially places her in an “electronic concentration camp.”
“Regimes in the past have always started with the schools, where they develop a compliant citizenry,” John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute said. “They are getting students used to living in a total surveillance state where there will be no privacy, wherever you go and whatever you text or email will be watched by the government. This is where everything is headed.”
WND previously reported on the case of Andrea Hernandez, a student at John Jay High School in the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas. This year, the school implemented a new program requiring students to wear badges containing an RFID chip, which would be used to track them anywhere they went, including the restrooms. Hernandez refused to wear the chip, citing privacy and religious issues.
The RFID card is part of a pilot program called the “Student Locator Project” at John Jay and Anson Jones Middle School, which the district hopes to expand to cover all of its 112 schools, with a total student population of 100,000.
The primary intent of the tracking cards is not to increase student safety but to increase state funding to the district.
WOAI-TV in San Antonio reported district spokesman Pasqual Gonzalez said the two schools have a high rate of truancy, and the district could gain $2 million in state funding by improving attendance.
Despite the schools having 290 surveillance cameras, officials apparently believe that is not enough to keep track of students attending the schools.
After her refusal to wear the tracking chip, Hernandez was warned in a letter that there would “be consequences.” Following through on its threats, the district sent Hernandez a letter informing her she would expelled effective Nov. 26.
The Rutherford Institute intends to file a request for a temporary restraining order this week that would prohibit school officials from expelling Hernandez.
“She is a great achiever academically and she worked hard to get here. She should not be expelled for simply standing up for her First Amendment rights,” Whitehead said.
For Hernandez, the issue is the ID card but the RFID chip. The district subsequently offered to permit her to wear a card identical to those with the chip that did not contain the tracking device.
Whitehead said that while the offer may appear to be a reasonable compromise, it misses the point.
“Forcing her to wear a badge that essentially says she endorses the trackers when she doesn’t would be like requiring a Jewish student to wear a badge endorsing the Holocaust,” he said.
Hernandez has drawn national attention to the district’s policy. Because of this, Whitehead said, the district is singling her out for punishment. Hernandez is not the only student who has refused to wear the chip, however, she is the only one to face expulsion.
“She has become a thorn in their side and has been singled out,” Whitehead said. “The easiest way to solve the problem of a thorn is to remove it. I have been working on these types of cases for over 40 years, and the government either tries to sweep these problems under the rug or remove the person causing the problem.”
He said the case is important, because the district is attempting to show students that they will be punished for exercising their constitutional rights.
Prior to the expulsion letter, Hernandez faced other consequences. She was refused the right to vote for homecoming king and queen because she did not have the proper ID. Hernandez was using her old school-issued ID card at the time.
Whitehead said the argument by government officials is that a person has no expectation of privacy in a public school or on the sidewalk outside the building. However, he doesn’t accept that line of thinking.
“If a student is walking down the hallway and talking to his girlfriend, should the school have the ability to read their lips to see what they are talking about?” he asked. “What’s the difference between that and being an animal in a zoo?”
He warned that while it may seem like an isolated incident in a single school district, the tracking chips will eventually be implemented across the country.
“The forces behind this are very strong so people need to get ready for it,” Whitehead said. “We are moving into a time where we are going to be in an electronic concentration camp wherever we go.”