Andrea Hernandez is a smart 15-year-old sophomore in a science and engineering magnet school in Texas. But she might be expelled from her school. Is she disruptive or a bad student? No, her transgression is that she has refused to wear a school-mandated RFID (“spychip?”) tracking badge. Does she like to hide out and not be found instead of being in her classroom? Actually, she objects on religious grounds. She (and her family) object because they consider the school district’s spychip program to be equivalent to the “the mark of the Beast” spoken of in Revelation, chapter 13. After she refused to wear the tracking chip, Ms. Hernandez was warned in a letter that there would “be consequences.” Following through on its threats, the school district sent Ms. Hernandez a letter informing her she would be expelled on November 26th if she refused to comply.
Well, as these matters are often decided by the courts, this dispute is being heard by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio. Ms. Hernandez and her lawyers have requested an injunction to prevent disciplinary actions against her planned by the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, which was granted by Judge Garcia pending the outcome of the litigation.
The school district’s program, called the “Student Locator Project,” seeks to boost public funding for the district by increasing student attendance rates. The mandatory card badges embedded with the RFID tracking chip allow school administrators to track students at all times while on the campus. School officials contend that a continuous monitoring and tracking of students will reduce absences, and they will be able to collect an additional $1.7 million in funding from the state by the time the monitoring program is installed in the district’s 112 schools. Really? $1.7 million for monitoring students in 112 schools?
Ms. Hernandez is being represented by attorneys from the Rutherford Institute, who stated, “For Hernandez, a Christian, the badges pose a significant religious freedom concern in addition to the obvious privacy issues. Andrea’s religious objection derives from biblical teachings that equate accepting a personalized code – as a sign of submission to government authority and as a means of obtaining certain privileges from a secular ruling authority – with a form of idolatry or submission to a false god.”
A ruling is expected shortly. What would you do if it were you or your child?