Indiana Daily Student

Pa. school defends spy charges

A school district accused of secretly switching on laptop webcams inside students’ homes said it never used webcam images to monitor or discipline students.

The Lower Merion School District acknowledged webcams were activated 42 times in the past 14 months but only to find missing, lost or stolen laptops.

“Be assured that the security-tracking software has been completely disabled,” Superintendent Christopher McGinley said in a statement on the district Web site.

Harriton High School student Blake Robbins and his parents filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the district, its board of directors and McGinley. They accused the school of turning on his computer’s webcam while it was inside their home, which they allege violated wiretap and right to privacy laws.

The suit alleges Harriton Vice Principal Lindy Matsko cited a laptop photo in telling Blake the school thought he was engaging in improper behavior. He and his family said an official mistook a piece of candy for a pill and thought he was selling drugs.

Only two employees in the technology department, not administrators, were authorized to activate the cameras, which captured images but no sound, officials said.

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