Northside ISD Smart Student ID program drawing critics

Smart Student ID pilot program being tested at Jay HS, Jones Middle School

Author: Charles Gonzalez, Reporter, Anchor, cgonzalez@ksat.com
Published On: Aug 30 2012 03:20:09 PM CDT   Updated On: Aug 14 2012 09:14:11 PM CDT
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SAN ANTONIO -

A new program being tested at some Northside Independent School District schools that tracks students using a Smart Student ID tag has many students and parents up in arms.

Andrea Hernandez, a sophomore at Northside ISD's Science and Engineering Academy, said she was shocked when she was issued her new mandatory student ID.

"It's huge and I have to wear it like a dog collar," she said. "It's ridiculous. There's absolutely no need for it."

The new ID, which is three to four times thicker than the old ID, uses radio frequencies to send a signal throughout campus buildings. It's similar to the ID system used throughout Spring ISD near Houston at all of its campuses.

"My child doesn't need to be tracked," Andrea's father, Steven Hernandez, said. "They put chips in animals to track animals but I think this is overstepping their boundaries."

Northside's board voted earlier this summer to run the pilot program at Jay High School and Jones Middle School which had some of the lowest attendance rates in the district.

"This Smart Student ID card is designed to help us locate students in an emergency if we have to," said district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez. "It will also allow us to manage the attendance better so we can get revenues for particular schools."

The pilot program will cost roughly $500,000 and Gonzalez said the improved attendance could bring in nearly $2 million to the two schools in added state funding.

"They admit they're doing this for more funding," Steven Hernandez said. "They're going to invest an extra $500,000. Why don't you invest that into education?"

"If they don't want to go to school and they don't want to pass, that's their own problem," Andrea said. "Other people shouldn't have to be forced to wear this stuff because of a handful of students."

The district sent letters out to parents of Jay and Jones students dated August 10. It plans to take about a month to phase in the IDs to the 4,200 students at both schools.

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