A public school district in Texas can require students to wear locator chips while on school property, a federal judge ruled Tuesday in a case raising technology-driven privacy concerns among liberal and conservative groups alike, Reuters and NBC report.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia says that the San Antonio Northside School District had the right to expel sophomore Andrea Hernandez, 15, from Jay High School because she refused to wear the tracking device, which is required of all students at the magnet school, the article says.
The judge also refused Hernandez’s request to block the district from removing her from the school while the case works its way through the federal courts, Reuters reports.
The American Civil Liberties Union and certain conservative groups oppose the district’s use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, some of which call it an example of “big government” monitoring individuals and eroding their liberties and privacy rights, the article says.
The school district – the fourth-largest in Texas, with some 100,000 students – is not attempting to track, regulate or spy on students’ activities, says district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez. Northside is using the technology to locate students who are in the school building but not in their classroom when the morning bell rings, Reuters reports.
This action was in response to a Texas law that counts a student present for purposes of distributing state aid to education funds based on the number of pupils in class at the start of the day. Northside claims it was losing $1.7 million every year due to students loitering in stairwells or chatting in halls, the article states.
Gonzalez adds that the software only works within the school building, and cannot track the movements of students, and does not allow students to be monitored by third parties.