John Jay student Andrea Hernandez returns without Smart ID card

Court hearing pending over religious, freedom issue

SAN ANTONIO – After being briefly reassigned to Taft High School, Andrea Hernandez returned Monday to John Jay Science Academy without the Smart ID card she has refused to wear.

Hernandez's attorney, John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, said the technology that is part of the Northside Independent School District's student locator pilot program is contrary to her religious beliefs as an evangelical Christian.

The Smart ID cards were issued in early October at John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School.

Whitehead, a constitutional law attorney, will represent Hernandez at a court hearing Wednesday. He is seeking a permanent injunction that would replace the temporary restraining order now in place.

"She is a very, very good student with strong beliefs," Whitehead said.

"We don't question that (she's a good student)," said NISD spokesman Pascual Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said the district offered Andrea and her family "the option, the exception" of using an ID without the technology that they consider "a sign of the devil."

"We showed them the badge and they declined it," Gonzalez said.

Whitehead said his client and her father felt wearing it would be endorsing its use.

Gonzalez said in addition to Hernandez, a second student at John Jay also refused the Smart ID two weeks ago, but little is known about the case as of now.

Gonzalez said the confidential grievance process remains at the school level for now.

Otherwise, Gonzalez said 4,198 students are using the new ID cards.

However, there are those like Nicole Trinidad, an 18-year-old senior at John Jay.

"It makes me feel like I don't have my own privacy," Trinidad said. "Having to always wear them, then knowing they have GPS, it just makes me feel weird."

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.