A San Antonio school district ended its controversial microchip locator program in student identification cards recently after a student sued the district over the policy, claiming it violated her religious beliefs and even compared it to the "mark of the beast" in the Bible.
The Northside Independent School District decided to end the microchip program despite a federal judge ruling in its favor, saying Andrea Hernandez's refusal to wear the ID was "not grounded in her religious beliefs" but was a "secular choice rather than a religious concern."
"The district was upheld in federal court but schools spent $271,659 for the program for 4,200 students in two schools," said Pascual Gonzalez, executive director of communication for Northside. "There was a 94 percent attendance rate at these schools but that's not good enough for us and this technology allowed us to locate students who were not in their seat when role was taken in the morning. There was also an increased burden placed on staff to follow through on locating students that the locator program found and ultimately, it was not worth the payoff in the end," he said.
Hernandez filed the lawsuit after her high school, Jay Science and Engineering Academy, transferred her to her home base high school upon breaking the policy to wear the ID badge.
"I feel that it's an invasion of my religious beliefs, I feel that it's an implementation of the mark of the beast. I also feel that it's an invasion of my privacy and my rights as a citizen," said Hernandez, according to Info Wars.
The student, who attends John Hagee's Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, refused to adhere to the program's policy based on the reference in Revelation 13:15-18 about the 666 mark, which will be the sign of the antichrist during the end of times. According to Hernandez's father, Steven Hernandez, Northside was the antichrist in his daughter's situation, reports NPR.
Gonzalez said the district implemented the program because it wanted to receive additional state funds which the state of Texas grants to schools according to the number of students present on a daily basis. The ID cards, which cost $15 but students only needed to pay that fee if they lost it and a replacement needed to be order, gave a return investment of $136,000, according to Gonzalez
Now that the program has ended, Gonzalez says Hernandez can return to her previous high school if she applies again. As for Hernandez and her family, the decision to terminate the program is a victory even though they sued unsuccessfully.
"…I would like to say that my daughter Andrea and I are overwhelmed with happiness and joy," said Steve Hernandez, according to NBC. "We sincerely believe with all our hearts that this program put our salvation at risk…," said Steven.
Correction: Friday, July 26, 2013
An article on Wednesday, July 24, 2013, about a student ID program using a microchip locator originally reported that there were 5,000 students in the program, but Pascual Gonzalez, a Northside school district official, contacted CP on Thursday and said the correct figure is 4,200 students. Gonzalez also clarified that students did not have to pay for the first ID, but they needed to pay $15 if they lost the card given to them and the school needed to order a replacement card.