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Schools’ Tracking Devices Causes Controversy

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(credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A San Antonio school district’s website was hacked over the weekend to protest its policy requiring students to wear microchip-embedded cards tracking their every move on campus.

A teenager purportedly working with the hacker group Anonymous said in an online statement that he took the site down because the Northside school district “is stripping away the privacy of students in your school.”

The teen, who identified himself in an email as being 16 years old, said he hacked into the website Saturday, and it was not working Sunday. District spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said he has not yet been able to confirm that it was hacked.

Starting this fall, all students at John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School are required to carry identification cards embedded with a microchip. They are tracked by the dozens of electronic readers installed in the schools’ ceiling panels.

Northside has been testing a “radio frequency identification” tracking system for the two schools to increase attendance in order to secure more state funding, officials have said. The program, which kicked off at the beginning of this school year, eventually could be used at all of Northside’s 112 campuses, officials have said. The district is the fourth largest in Texas with more than 97,000 students.

The hacked website isn’t the first controversy over the program.

One John Jay student refused to wear the device, citing religious reasons, and then filed a lawsuit after Principal Robert Harris threatened to remove her from the school and stopped her from petitioning against the ID badge. Last week a judge said the principal’s actions violated the student’s speech and religious rights, and granted a restraining order barring Harris from removing her from the school, San Antonio television station KENS reported.

Anonymous is a collection of Internet enthusiasts, pranksters and activists whose targets have included financial institutions such as Visa and MasterCard, the Church of Scientology and law enforcement agencies.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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