Frequently Asked Questions
Northside ISD Student Locator Project

Q. What will the “smart” ID cards look like?

A. Click here to see an example of the new “smart” ID card. The “smart” card will very much look like the current card used in NISD schools. On the face will be the name and photo of the student, name of school, and the school’s mascot.

Q. How will these be worn and when?

A. The “smart” cards will be worn on lanyards around the neck. The lanyards will be the ‘breakaway’ type so that there will be no harm to the student should the lanyard get caught or   pulled. The “smart” ID cards must be worn at all times while in school except while in physical education activities.

Q. Does the locator technology work in the restroom?

A. No. There are no chip readers located in the restroom.

Q. When will students be issued the new “smart” ID cards?
The “smart” ID cards will be issued during the month of September.

Q. What does it cost to replace them if one is lost?

A. The initial card will be provided at no cost to the student. The cost to replace a lost card will be $15 and it will be up to the student or parent to pay the fee. The lost card will be automatically voided.

Q. Why were Jay High School and Jones Middle School selected for this pilot?

A. These two schools are among the lowest in attendance in NISD and both principals were very eager to implement a solution that will help increase attendance and also keep their students safe. It is critically important that all students attend classes every day so that they can be successful in their academics.

Q. Will there be parent meetings to explain the “smart” ID cards?

A. Yes; principals will schedule meetings, send information home, post more information on the school websites, and update this website as needed.

Q. Will teachers be required to wear the “smart” ID cards?

A. They will also wear the same cards and lanyards as the students; however, this pilot is only about locating students.

Q. What does this pilot cost and what is the projected additional revenue expected?

A. NISD will spend approximately $261,000 on this pilot for the two schools and expects to realize $2 million in additional revenues.

Technical Questions

The following information is provided by Wade Garcia & Associates (WGA), the contractor hired by Northside ISD to manage the installation of the Student Locator Project at Jay High School and Jones Middle School. WGA will also provide the “smart” identification cards for students. See their website: http://wadegarcia.com/

Q.1 Could someone manufacture a copy of a WGA RFID reader and use it to intercept information transmitted by student RFID tags?

A.1 WGA has approached this as an issue of system architecture. By ensuring that the “smart” ID contains no information of interest to anyone, WGA has simultaneously removed any motive for cloning its reader and removed any problem if someone does clone its reader. The premise is simple: There is no information stored on any WGA “smart” ID except its serial number. Therefore, an intruder or “hacker” can only learn that the tag serial number is, for example, #69872331, but that does not provide any useful information. The tag serial number is not the student’s school I.D. number. The student’s school ID number is stored on the school or Northside’s internal server and one would have to have access to the school or school district’s server and data base to determine what tag number can be associated with a student’s school ID number.

Q.2 Where is the useful information stored?

A.2 The tables that associate a tag serial number with a student or a location are stored in the school or school district’s internal servers and protected by the school district’s data encryption, firewall and other security protocols.

Q.3 Could the school District’s servers be hacked?

A.3 Nothing is 100% hack proof but the District does follow industry best security practices and is diligent in protecting data, systems and the network. The introduction of the WGA’s system does not increase current security risks since it does not store nor transmit confidential data. Security measures are in place to protect the data in the database as well as access to the database server itself which is standard in all database servers within the District.

Q.4 No matter how strong your encryption, can a determined individual hack into a server?

A.4 WGA’s system does not store nor transmit student information or any confidential data on the card, therefore, it is not necessary to encrypt it on the card nor during transmission. The only data stored or transmitted through RFID is the tag’s serial number. This tag serial number is not encrypted. There is no correlation between a “smart” serial number and a student’s school I.D. number. The cards are randomly assigned a serial number during the manufacturing process and are numerically sequential with no uniqueness as to school, location, grade or school district.

Q.5 Is the use of RFID tags an invasion of privacy?

A.5 No. A student has no privacy interest in preventing the school from knowing where they are while on school property. To the contrary, the school system is expected to know, and parents expect the school to know, where the children are at all times. Schools have employed systems to do this since the one-room schoolhouse. Presently, schools use class scheduling, uniform class start times, uniform class ending times, specific time periods for in-between class transit, and specific schedules for lunch periods, study halls and library activities. These schedules and time frames are maintained by school computers and manually monitored by teachers and administrators and each student is subject to a certain time scheduling and class scheduling protocol depending on their grade level and course selection. Anything that helps a school perform this vital function with more accuracy and less cost is beneficial to the school and the student.

Q. 6 What student information is public and what student information is private?

A. 6 The "Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act" (FERPA) is the Federal law that applies to all educational agencies and institutions (e.g., schools) that receive funding under any program administered by the Department of Education. FERPA is administered by the Family Policy Compliance Office in the U.S. Department of Education, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99.

FERPA generally prohibits the improper disclosure of personally identifiable information derived from education records. WGA’s “smart” ID card contains no education records of students. WGA’s system contains no education records of students. All student records are maintained by the school or school district on their internal computers and servers. WGA’s “smart” ID card does not facilitate access or grant access to any student records as those records are maintained and accessed only through the school or school district’s computers and servers.

Q. 7 Where can I get more information about student records and privacy?

A. 7 This questions applies to schools and school districts as WGA’s tag does not transmit any student information. A link to the U.S. Department of Education at


will provide more information regarding privacy and release of student records. Also, the Texas Public Information Act, Texas Government Code, Chapter 552, contains rules regarding what government records are public and may be obtained via an Open Records Act request.

While there are many prohibitions against the release of student records and information, there are also many exceptions. An important section under the link above is entitled “Disclosure Of Education Records” and may be useful. An important exception contained under that heading states (at the 9th paragraph):

“Another exception permits a school to non-consensually disclose personally identifiable information from a student's education records when such information has been appropriately designated as directory information. "Directory information" is defined as information contained in the education records of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Directory information could include information such as the student's name, address, e-mail address, telephone listing, photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended, grade level or year (such as freshman or junior), and enrollment status (undergraduate or graduate; full-time or part-time).”

Again, the above does not apply to WGA as WGA does not maintain any student education records and WGA’s student I.D. tag does not contain or transmit any student information.

The foregoing is for general informational purposes only and is not offered as legal advice upon which anyone may rely. This is not a complete summary or explanation of any statute, policy, law or procedure. This is presented for general purposes only for anyone concerned or interested about privacy of student records.

Wade / Garcia & Associates, Inc.
16607 Blanco Rd., Suite 1102
San Antonio, Texas 78232