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School districts track students with microchips

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School districts are tracking students with microchips in an effort to get more state and federal funding.

Three Texas school districts are already using student name tags with tiny chips embedded inside that track their whereabouts at all times.

"Students have to be in school for 90% of the days in order to get credit for their courses and if they're not. The school district will determine whether they need to get their truancy officer involved and whether they need to take the student to court," Amy Wiseman, a senior researcher with E-3 alliance.

She says on average, the Central Texas region has more absences than the rest of the state. In Texas, schools receive money based on the number of students counted in homeroom each morning and according to a San Antonio Northside ISD representative, they were losing too much funding.

NISD expects to see a $2 million return on the $261,000 technology.

"It's tortured logic that says in order to get more money we have to spend money on technological whiz gadgets," said Wayne Krause Yang, the legal director for the Texas Civil Rights Project. "Students' constitutional rights do not stop at the school house gate. This may encroach upon those and it's possible that this is an unconstitutional action by the school district. It's a shame that the financial situation is such that the school district feels they need to tag children like cattle."

"When it comes to absences that do not impact funding from the state, then the school districts vary widely in how they actually code those absences," said Wiseman. "If districts in the region could track absences in a more consistent manner, it would allow us to see what are the main reasons that students are absent. Then maybe we can actually try to influence and change systems in the region to try to actually with some of those reasons."

Some say the focus should be on the reason behind the absence, whether it's excused, unexcused or truancy.

Austin ISD does keep track of student attendance, but do not currently have a program like this.

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