SAN ANTONIO -- A dad told a federal judge Monday his family is being forced to choose between God or the Northside Independent School District.
The decision revolves around the ID badges equipped with RFID tracking chips at Northside's John Jay High School. It was an emotional day for Andrea Hernandez's dad, who is trying to keep his 15-year-old daughter in a magnet school. A judge must decide if Northside ISD or the family wins what could be just one round in a continuing fight over religious freedom.
"We have made what we think is a reasonable attempt to accommodate her religious objections," said Northside Superintendent Brian Woods, who hopes a federal court judge sides with Northside ISD.
The district wants to expel Andrea Hernandez from a science and technology magnet school for not wearing an ID with a tracking device. She refuses to wear the badge and did not accept a compromise of wearing a badge without the micro-chip that looks the same in size and shape.
"I earned my way into this school, Hernandez said. "And for them to kick me out because of my religious beliefs is unfair for them to do."
Andrea's family obtained a restraining order that has kept administrators from expelling her before this week's hearing. Cameras were not allowed inside the courthouse, but Hernandez told a judge that, according to Revelations 13, the badge is like a mark of the beast or sinful.
In a pilot program, the district wants all students at John Jay High School and Anson Middle School to wear the device for safety and for tracking attendance in order to gain more state funding.
An attorney for Northside ISD told the judge that even the Pope agrees with the tracking device for priests. But that was not enough for the Hernandez family--standing firm and hoping Andrea can keep an old badge and stay in school.
The judge will make his decision by the end of the week. If the ruling favors Northside ISD, Andrea must wear the badge or go to her neighborhood school -- Taft High. Northside ISD will, however, allow her to finish the semester.