Sidestepping State Court Hearing, School Officials File for Removal to Federal Court in Case of High Schooler Forced to Wear “Smart ID” Tracking Badge

by Nisha Whitehead, Rutherford.org  |  published on November 29, 2012

In a move aimed at sidestepping a potentially unfavorable state court hearing in the case of a high school student kicked out of a magnet school for objecting to a school-mandated RFID tracking badge, Texas officials have filed a motion to have the case removed from state court to federal court.

Attorneys for the Rutherford Institute were scheduled to appear before the Bexar County District Court on November 28, 2012 at 9AM CST in favor of a preliminary injunction against John Jay High School to stop them from essentially expelling Andrea Hernandez for her refusal to wear a name badge signifying participation in the school district’s new “Student Locator Project.”

The badges include tiny Radio Frequency Identification (“RFID”) chips that produce a radio signal, enabling school officials to track students’ precise location on school property. For sophomore Andrea Hernandez, the badges pose a significant religious freedom concern in addition to the obvious privacy issues.

Last week, District Court Judge Solomon Casseb granted The Rutherford Institute’s request for a temporary restraining order in the case, ordering school officials to allow Andrea to return to school on Monday, Nov. 26.

In coming to Andrea’s defense, Rutherford attorneys have alleged that the school’s actions violate Andrea’s rights under Texas’ Religious Freedom Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

“I think it’s unfortunate that these school officials are determined to continue to violate Andrea Hernandez’ constitutional rights, but their actions clearly show that what is motivating them has little to do with their students’ best interests and everything to do with fattening their coffers,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “At stake in this case are core constitutional values: the freedom of religion, the right to privacy, and the right to be treated fairly in our society.”

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