Austin School District Uses GPS to Track Students

Lauren Williams's picture
Monday, January 7, 2013

Akins High School sophomore Marisol Castro Soto said she had fallen in with the wrong crowd.

She and her friends would frequently skip school or show up to classes at their leisure. But when the 16-year-old was threatened with going before a judge because of her absences, Marisol knew it was time for a change.

She volunteered for the Austin school district's new truancy program, which uses GPS trackers to help prompt students to go to class more often. Students who miss more than 10 days of school lose credit for their courses, officials said. At that point, students and parents may be summoned to court for truancy and may face misdemeanor charges and fines and be found criminally negligent.

Unlike the controversial Radio Frequency Identification System, or RFID, tags the Northside school district made mandatory at two San Antonio area campuses, the Austin program requires student and parental written consent.

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