Northside Independent School District officials confirmed on Monday that they have ended its controversial student tracking system using ID badges, which triggered a national firestorm of debate on privacy, religious and health grounds.
Northside’s school board in May 2012 approved the pilot program, which uses radio frequency identification, or RFID, technology chips inserted in students’ identification badges to locate them on campus. School officials can see where the students are by logging into a district computer that uses chip readers installed throughout the campus to detect their badges.
The project was approved only for use last school year at two campuses that had the low attendance rates: Jay High and Anson Jones Middle schools, totaling 4,200 students. Northside could have eventually expanded it to cover nearly 100,000 students at its 112 campuses.
The school district faced nearly instantaneous online criticism, and later in-person protests, from various civil liberties groups after announcing the proposal. Add to that a lawsuit from a student who refused to wear the badge for religious reasons, two lawmakers that unsuccessfully tried to get it banned in Texas schools, and a website hacking attempt from someone claiming to be with the international activist group Anonymous.
Superintendent Brian Woods exclusively spoke with the Express-News about why Northside decided to end the RFID student tracking program.