San Antonio’s Northside Independent School District recently decided to end its controversial microchip tracking program, months after a student unsuccessfully sued the district over the policy.
The district decided the program -– designed to track students’ attendance –- was ineffective and too costly, according to the Wall Street Journal. The program required students to wear student identification badges with microchips that could track a student’s location in school.
The program entered the national spotlight earlier this year after some groups argued the tracking was an invasion of privacy. Additionally, when student Andrea Hernandez faced consequences over her refusal to wear the chip, she sued the district, arguing that wearing the badge violated her religious liberties and right to privacy.
Hernandez said the ID badge was the “mark of the beast” and felt that wearing the badge was a form of idolatry, as it represented submission to a secular ruling authority, according to a statement from the Rutherford Institute, the group that represented her.
However, a judge ruled in favor of Northside in January, stating that Hernandez’ issues were really a “secular choice rather than a religious concern.”
The district says the lawsuit did not influence its decision to end the program.
“The attendance increases after one year were only .5% at the high school and .07 % at the middle school, and neither one of the increases can be solely attributed to the use of the technology,” Pascual Gonzalez, the district’s executive director of communications, told HLN.
“The lawsuit and negative publicity were part of the conversation, but not the deciding factor in ending the program,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
However, the Rutherford Institute made a statement suggesting that it did not believe such.
“This decision by Texas school officials to end the student locator program is proof that change is possible if Americans care enough to take a stand and make their discontent heard,” Rutherford Institute President John Whitehead said in a statement.
As local station KENS 5 notes, this may not be the last the public hears about the program.
“This technology is valid. This technology is powerful. We just have to figure out how this technology might be tapped in a public-school setting,” Gonzalez told the station.