The Northside Independent School District (NISD) in San Antonio sparked a controversy when it rolled out its "Student Locator Project," which requires students to wear ID badges with embedded radio frequency identification (RFID) chips on a lanyard around their neck. Students are required to wear the tracking badges at all times during school hours and when attending certain school events, and those who refuse are reportedly being denied access to areas like the cafeteria or library.
NISD's goal is to expand the project to 112 Texas schools and around 100,000 students as a means to combat against truancy, but it's already being met with resistance by some students and parents at John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School, the two facilities that kicked off the program on October 1. Those refusing to wearing the badges over privacy concerns have reportedly been threatened with suspensions, fines, and even involuntary transfers.
The district in question has a high rate of truancy, and by improving attendance, NISD could receive as much as $2 million in state funding. According to a local newspaper, NISD spent $525,065 to implement the pilot program and will continue to spend $136,005 per year to keep it running.
In addition to privacy concerns, the website ChipFreeSchools.com brings up the issue of health.
"Children should never be used as test subjects for technology, no matter what their socio-economic status. If schools choose to move forward without complete information and are willing to accept the associated liability, they should have provisions in place to adhere to the principles of fair information practices and respect individuals’ rights to opt out based on their conscientious and religious objections," the website says.
It's a big can of worms NISD opened. Another argument in opposition to requiring students to wear RFID tags is that it could dissuade certain kids from seeking out counseling when needed because the tags will document their presence at places like the counselor's office.
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