Two state lawmakers have filed three bills that would ban the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in public schools – a safety and efficiency vs. privacy issue that drew national attention after San Antonio’s largest school district began using it last fall, according to an article from My San Antonio.
Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, and Rep. Cindy Burkett, R-Garland, co-authored HB 101 and HB 102, which would prohibit the use of RFID to track students, allow parents to opt out of a tracking program and keep school districts from punishing students who choose not to participate, the article says.
Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, also filed SB 173, which would prohibit RFID technology in schools, the article notes.
Northside Independent School District is being sued in federal court by high school student Andrea Hernandez, who refuses to wear the RFID-outfitted ID badge because she says it violates her religious beliefs, the article says. However, her efforts to obtain an injunction to keep Northside from enforcing the minimum requirement – that she wear the badge with the chip removed – were unsuccessful.
The Houston-area school districts – Spring and Santa Fe ISDs – have used the technology for several years and report gains of hundreds of thousands of dollars for improved documentation of attendance without major backlash. State funding is based on school attendance, and the badges help ensure tall students in the building get counted, the article says.
Kolkhorst says that Legislature needs to debate the appropriateness of that use, but her previous bills on the issue haven’t been able to make it out of committee. She calls the technology “very dehumanizing” and thinks that its use is “an example of government overstepping its bounds,” the article says.
However, district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez says that “This is not about tracking students; it’s about locating students when we need to, within the four walls of the school. This is especially important when the security of the school is threatened,” the article reports.