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Texas test case: Do school IDs with locator chips violate religious freedom?

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The district paid $261,000 for the ID technology, but is hoping to get $1.7 million of additional state revenue over the year based on increased attendance numbers.

Beyond the attendance money, Mr. Gonzalez says, are safety concerns. “This is not a tracking pilot, this is a locating pilot,” he says. “When there’s an emergency in the school, if we have to lock down the school or evacuate a school or whatever, we will be able to find a student as we need to by entering a randomly assigned number.”

But that’s not the way that Andrea and her family see it. The school said she could wear an ID without any RFID technology, but Andrea refused – saying that wearing the badge, and implying her participation in the program, would still be “worshipping a false god.” The school reassigned her away from Jay, a magnet school, to her home high school, which doesn’t use the IDs, the week before Thanksgiving

A local judge has issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the school from transferring her, and the case is now in the courts.

“The future of privacy is at stake,” says John Whitehead, a constitutional lawyer and president of the Rutherford Institute, a civil rights group in Charlottesville, Va., that is backing Andrea in the case.

The religious concern among some Evangelicals is “a sincere belief,” Mr. Whitehead says. And he notes that the school stopped Andrea from handing out pamphlets after school explaining her views.

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