She lost the case in federal court, but a Texas girl expelled from her magnet school last year for refusing to wear a school identification card with a radio-tracking chip is returning to class Monday after the school dropped the program.
Andrea Hernandez, a sophomore at John Jay High School in San Antonio, said the school tag embedded with radio-frequency tracking represented the “mark of the Beast” from the Bible’s Book of Revelation.
The John Jay experiment was part of a pilot program for the Northside Independent School District. School officials said being able to track the students’ physical whereabouts would help the district improve its attendance, which in turn could lead to higher funding from the state.
The school board decided to stop using the ID system because the investment – it cost almost $272,000 for John Jay and a middle school where it was tried – wasn’t worth the trouble or potential payoff, according to an NBC Latino report.
“We said we would run this pilot for one year, and at the end of this year we would look at the benchmarks we set to see if we reached our goals,” Pascual Gonzalez, a spokesman for the district said in July.
“The attendance rates did go up but not in a significant way. The increase in attendance could not be directly tied to the student locator system.”
Hernandez sued the school district last year over her expulsion, with attorneys from the Virginia-based Rutherford Institute arguing that students who refused to participate in the ID program “were not able to access essential services like the cafeteria and library, nor would they be able to purchase tickets to extracurricular activities.”
In January, a federal judge ruled in favor of the school district, saying it was justified in transferring Hernandez out of the magnet school and back to her home campus.
But that didn’t stop the Rutherford Institute from claiming a measure of victory with the news that Hernandez would be returning to the magnet school after being forced to re-apply for a seat in the 4,200-student school that specializes in science and engineering.
Hernandez’s lawsuit proved there are people willing to stand up to the government and say “no more,” Rutherford Institute President John Whitehead said in a news release.
“Whether you’re talking about NSA surveillance, SWAT team raids on organic farmers, or young people being chipped, tracked and treated like criminals, it’s all too easy to get discouraged when faced with a government that not only refuses to listen but steadfastly continues to undermine the Constitution,” Whitehead said in a release.
“There are very few happy endings for those who stand up to the government and say ‘no more.’ Hopefully, Andrea Hernandez will prove to be the exception and will use this opportunity to continue to stand strong for freedom.”