School District Wins Suit Filed Against It By Student Who Refused To Wear School-Issued Location Tracking ID Cards
from the another-'win'-for-school-administration----go-school! dept
The student's parents cited religious objections to the ID card/tracking device and the filing pointed out that requiring her to wear the badge violated both her First Amendment rights (by compelling speech -- conveying a message she didn't agree with) and the Texas Freedom of Religion Act.
Considering the whole program itself was implemented almost solely in hopes of securing more funding by boosting attendance numbers and that the district had no specific policies in place when it began requiring the ID cards, one would hope that we'd be hearing of the student's return to school sans ID when the decision came down.
Unfortunately, the court's decision went the other way, and Andrea Hernandez has until January 18th to decide whether to wear the badge and return to her original school or transfer to another district school that has yet to implement the Smart ID cards.
A Texas high school student who claimed her student identification was the “Mark of the Beast” because it was implanted with a radio-frequency identification chip has lost her federal court bid Tuesday challenging her suspension for refusing to wear the card around her neck...Hernandez's family feels the ID card and embedded chip represent the "Mark of the Beast" as detailed in Revelations 13:16-18. The school's counteroffer -- to have Andrea wear the badge without the RFID chip -- was rejected by her family, which still felt the badge itself was representative of the Antichrist. Judge Garcia saw it differently, however.
[Judge Orlando Garcia] tentatively halted the suspension, but changed course Tuesday after concluding that the 15-year-old’s right of religion was not breached...
“The accommodation offered by the district is not only reasonable it removes plaintiff’s religious objection from legal scrutiny all together,” (.pdf) U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia wrote.The Rutherford Institute plans to appeal this decision, claiming this decision is "not permissible under our constitutional scheme" and turns the district court into "an arbiter of what is and is not religious."
The Institute has a point, for whatever it's worth. Hernandez's parents claimed that both the ID card and the embedded chip were offensive to their religious beliefs but the court here seems to have decided the compromise offered by the district negates the family's opinion on the chip-less ID card. The school's offer to transfer the student to another school within the district is also reasonable on its face, but it does take away a few options -- namely, the classes Hernandez was attending this specific school for.
The school's interest in having Hernandez only appear to support the program could probably use some further examination as well, although angling for outward complicity isn't a violation of rights in and of itself. It does "compel" speech in a way, but more than simply rubbing the First Amendment the wrong way, it sends a message about what's truly important to the school district: that students show "support" for the district's policies... even if they object to them.