A stubborn teacher and a small group of students and parents in a rural high school are saying no to a policy in which every faculty member and pupil are required to wear a visible ID tag, complete with picture and bar code.
They are standing in the community of Elkins, West Virginia, on religious grounds and are being treated with scoffs and ridicule by some school officials. One school board member has even left threats on his answering machine to use “satanic power” on his critics.
Randolph County School District has implemented the use of ID tags
that incorporate a photo and bar code at Elkins High School. Students, faculty, and employees must wear the tags on a cord around their necks in plain view at all times.
Philip Hudok, a physics and chemistry teacher with 22 years of service has taken a firm stand that he will not wear the tags. He says the ID tags wrongfully assign numbers to people, which, he says, the Bible warns against.
“I sent letters to the administration prior to the first day of implementation that I could not and would not be able to participate in the ID badge program. I refused on religious grounds and a Nazi-like, ‘papers please’ mindset,” explained Hudok.
In addition to pointing out references to the “Mark of the Beast” in the Book of Revelation, Hudok also cites Chronicles Chapter 21. A portion of it reads, “1: And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. 7: And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel.”
Article 3, section 15 of the West Virginia Constitution states: “… nor shall any man be enforced, restrained, molested or burdened, in his body or goods, or otherwise suffer, on account of his religious belief … ” Apparently the Randolph County School District officials haven’t read that provision.
Initially the principal, Tom Pritt, agreed to permit Hudok to wear a badge of his own making. The handmade badge said simply, “EHS Physics Teacher.”
Superintendent of Schools Glen Karlen has stated that the ID tags are to provide for a safer school environment. He says they will prevent violence in the school.
“The primary purpose of the ID system is to protect the students and the staff. There is no intention to infringe on anybody’s rights,” Karlen explained to the school board.
The tags give a visual means to determine if there is someone in the school who should not be there. They are also used as admission to school events and activities, and the bar code provides a cashless payment system for school meals.
Police and drug-sniffing dogs were not wearing the authorized visitor’s passes of the school when they conducted a failed drug raid on Nov. 19. Hudok complained to the school board about the event.
Students were selected at random and lined up against walls while
dogs sniffed them for drugs. Hudok and students claim the dogs
urinated on students’ personal belongings and in the halls. No drugs
“Not so much as an apology has ever been issued,” remarked Hudok.
The drug raid was conducted as a deterrent, not because there was
evidence to suspect any students had drugs in the school, according
to Sgt. M. B. Cunningham of the Elkins detachment of the West
Virginia State Police.
“We think that those dogs coming in here from time to time are a
deterrent,” said Cunningham who confirmed that the raid did take
place. He said they purposely used their more passive dogs to
prevent injury to the children in the school.
“Ben is a more aggressive dog,” he explained of the animal left out
of the raid.
Karlen supports the drug raids and says they will continue.
“That’s almost a nationwide program, bringing drug dogs in. It’s
always our hope that they won’t find anything,” explained Karlen in
response to Hudok’s complaint.
Hudok is not alone in his concern. About 30 to 40 of the 1,000
students in the school have protested, along with their parents.
Some have been suspended.
Teachers are required to check all students for their ID at the
start of each class and activity. Hudok refuses to enforce the ID
program in his classroom.
Hudok strained the system to the limit with his actions, and his
homemade ID was determined to be insufficient. Pritt placed Hudok
on a “two-day improvement plan,” something similar to a detention
program for misbehaving children.
Hudok was required to comply fully with the program. He did not, and
found himself before the school board. Despite several meetings and
closed-door sessions with an attorney, no resolution was reached.
“I was given an ultimatum to comply by Jan. 4 or face disciplinary action, including possible termination of my employment,” explained Hudok. He requested an exemption for students and teachers be provided for those with religious concerns.
When Hudok arrived back at school from Christmas break, he was not
wearing the prescribed ID card and did not check students as they
entered the room. He was in trouble. This time he was threatened
with more than a dunce cap or detention.
“I was summoned to the board office with Mr. Karlen, Mr. Pritt, and
assistant superintendent Mrs. Kolson present,” explained Hudok. “I
was notified that the student exemption request was not accepted and
I was asked to sign an accommodation document which included
enforcement of the student bar coded ID requirement. I was told that
failure to do so meant that I was suspended until a hearing for
dismissal could be arranged.”
Hudok arrived for school as usual the next day, wearing his own
version of the ID. Pritt was there waiting for him, and demanded that
he sign some papers of agreement or get out. A student witnessed the
effort to force compliance, and Hudok refused.
Pritt said he would call Karlen to arrange for police to escort
Hudok from the room. They never came.
After three hours of classes Hudok was approached by the local TV
news crew for an interview. It was then that he learned that Karlen
had notified all the local press that an agreement had been reached.
The press was falsely told that Hudok was now in compliance.
“They’re lying. How do you deal with liars,” asked Hudok.
After an appearance on a talk radio show by Hudok, the school board
and administration has been flooded by calls. One school board
member, Mark Rizzio, was getting so many calls he left this message
on his answering machine:
“You have reached 666. If you would like to leave a message we will
get back to you as soon as possible. If that isn’t quick enough we
will use our satanic powers to get back to you even sooner.”
“The school board members’ phone numbers are in the phone book, so I
gave them out on the air,” said Hudok.
He believes the school board is trying to get the controversy to go
away. Not only did Karlen tell the press that the issue was settled
when it wasn’t, on Thursday he canceled school after a small storm.
“Today was a snow day, but actually there wasn’t that much snow,”
said Hudok in a phone interview Thursday.
“I think they’re trying to regroup and decide what they’re going to do,” he said.
Hudok now has some help on the way. The Rutherford Institute has
agreed to take on his case, and is planning a nationwide fund-raising
campaign to provide a legal defense fund.
What does the school administration think of Hudok’s plans for
national attention to his cause?
“I think they’re in a real frenzy down there,” said Hudok.
David M. Bresnahan, a contributing editor for WorldNetDaily.com, is the author of “Cover Up: The Art and Science of Political Deception,” and offers a monthly newsletter “Talk USA Investigative Reports.”
He may be reached through email and also maintains a website.