Hackers Endorse Texas Student’s Refusal to Wear Tracking Device

Published November 29, 2012

A Texas high school can’t expel Andrea Hernandez for refusing to wear a location-tracking ID badge, a district judge ruled Nov. 21. A week later, an anonymous hacker temporarily disabled the school district’s website, threatening long-term interference if the district does not discuss its tracking program with parents. The hacker identified himself as a 16-year-old male.

In September, two San Antonio schools began requiring their 4,000 students to wear ID badges containing radio frequency identification chips that transmit 24/7. Hernandez refused, citing her religious beliefs and right to privacy. The school threatened expulsion. So she sued.

Hernandez refused even to wear a card lacking a chip and battery, though school staff offered her that option twice, her principal said. Wearing it would imply she endorsed the badges, her father said. The sophomore has been wearing her old ID around her neck, instead.

District officials said the trackers identify when students cut class and could increase school coffers $2 million by accurately counting students on the day enrollment determines state funding for the year.

Hernandez had to apply to attend the science and engineering magnet school. Entrance requires an essay, good grades, and attendance. The judge granted her a temporary restraining order as the lawsuit moves forward.


Image by Kimie Abu Bakar.