Two local districts using student tracking devices
HOUSTON The program was started this year in part to make sure that kids are where they're supposed to be during the school day, but not all parents think the program is a benefit. For Santa Fe Parent Russell Cruzan, the Smart Tag isn't so smart. "I think it's a waste of money, to be honest with you, because some of these kids will just take the tag off and they can take off out of school and then they'll leave the tag with a friend or something ," Cruzan said. Despite the criticism, the Santa Fe school district decided this year to issue radio frequency identification, also called Smart Tags. The tag has a photo of the student and inside has technology to identify students. This year, the Santa Fe school district issued over 2,100 smart tags for students from 7th grade to 12th grade, costing the district $150,000 with a $15 replacement fee for students who lose their tags. Safety, says Santa Fe, was the motivating factor for the decision. "We do not have the feature that monitors them on the bus at this time and the reader only reads only within the school building and approximately 100 (feet) outside the building," said Patti Hanssard with Santa Fe ISD. Spring ISD started their program two years ago on 13 campuses to over 15,000 students, and so far have recovered $194,000 in average daily attendance. Besides getting accurate attendance reports, the Santa Fe school district says the computer monitoring the system is secure and not accessible to the public. "Anything that the schools, the parents, the community can do to keep them safe, I'm for it 100 percent," parent TJ Folk said. "I'd like to know if they would know where my son is during the day with the way crime is nowadays," parent Jacob Gonzalez added. There haven't been any reports of misuse of the tags; however, students who do misuse them will face discipline.