backtop


Print 12 comment(s) - last by Boze.. on Oct 13 at 8:32 PM

Lower Merion school district to fork over $610,000

The Lower Merion School District in Pennsylvania is now paying for its "sins" against students. The school district is handing over a total of $610,000 stemming from lawsuits brought against it for using webcams to spy on high school students.

Blake Robbins, who was 15 at the time of the incident, will receive $175,000 which will be held in trust -- a second student who joined in on the lawsuit will receive just $10,000. Not surprisingly, the lawyers came out on top in the settlement, with Robbins' attorney receiving $425,000 in legal fees.

The FBI will not press any charges against the school district in this matter.

David Ebby, the district's school board president, issued the following statement:

Although we would have valued the opportunity to finally share an important, untold story in the courtroom, we recognize that in this case, a lengthy, costly trial would benefit no one. It would have been an unfair distraction for our students and staff and it would have cost taxpayers additional dollars that are better devoted to education. We also wanted to be sensitive to the welfare of the student involved in the case, given the possible ramifications of what would have been a highly-publicized trial.

When news first broke that the Lower Merion School District was using school-issued laptops to keep a watchful eye on students courtesy of the built-in webcams, there was understandably quite a bit of outrage from the internet community. Over a 14-month period, the district remotely activated the webcams 42 times.

The school district explained that the remote system was in place to track down stolen laptops. To that end, 28 laptops were recovered using the system.

The straw that broke the camel's back, however, was when Robbins was summoned to the vice principal's office because he was allegedly "engaged in improper behavior in his home". School officials thought that they witnessed the student popping pills via the webcam, but Robbins was actually just munching on Mike & Ike jelly candies. The student's family in turn sued the school district.

"This is an age where kids explore their sexuality, so there's a lot of that going on in the [kid's] room," said Pennsylvania's ACLU legal director Witold Walczak back in February. "This is fodder for child porn."



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Justice not served
By Taft12 on 10/13/2010 9:41:54 AM , Rating: 3
Obscene lawyers take aside, this is not a good outcome. There should be jail time involved for officials and technical staff that put this spying program into place.




RE: Justice not served
By tastyratz on 10/13/2010 10:13:06 AM , Rating: 3
You want to recover stolen laptops? You use a gps or recovery software designed to phone home. Webcam to recover? Only to identify a person using the laptop or walking by - which does not prove they did it or even knew.

I agree, the school officials should be held accountable. When did that ever look like a good idea? How could they possibly think its acceptable or legal in any way?
The amount to the lawyers is rediculous though, do they normally represent the riaa?


RE: Justice not served
By Zanarchist on 10/13/2010 10:16:58 AM , Rating: 2
There was no jail time because this was a civil case not a criminal one. The FBI investigated and did not have enough evidence to press the invasion of privacy charges.


RE: Justice not served
By ICBM on 10/13/2010 10:19:42 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. How is the school getting of so easy?


RE: Justice not served
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 10/13/2010 10:28:47 AM , Rating: 5
By watching the spy cam footage

**Ba dum chink**


RE: Justice not served
By kattanna on 10/13/2010 11:32:03 AM , Rating: 1
the really sad part of this whole thing is that is $600K that now cannot be spent on facilities/teachers/students.

so while a few people "win", the community as a whole loses.


RE: Justice not served
By dsx724 on 10/13/2010 1:42:47 PM , Rating: 2
They weren't out to spy on the kids. The IT crew there all had incomes exceeding 100k and weren't perverts. They just stumbled upon some privileged material after a procedural oversight on data collection. The Robin's kid was smoking weed at home and showing his friends his stash. The administrators dealt with it poorly.


This should serve as a lesson
By AntiM on 10/13/2010 10:36:24 AM , Rating: 2
This should serve as a lesson as to why we shouldn't allow government to spy on us without proper warrants. They claimed the webcam software was for recovering stolen laptops, but end up using it for other purposes. How stupid are these idiots? What business is it of the school as to what the kid does at home anyway?




RE: This should serve as a lesson
By twhittet on 10/13/2010 10:47:08 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. I wonder if she was fired? Reprimanded at least? For costing the school so much (and violating kids privacy) I sure hope so.


What was he doing?
By AstroGuardian on 10/13/2010 9:31:33 AM , Rating: 1
Why not just say "He was caught jerking off"?




RE: What was he doing?
By XZerg on 10/13/2010 9:36:04 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
School officials thought that they witnessed the student popping pills via the webcam, but Robbins was actually just munching on Mike & Ike jelly candies. The student's family in turn sued the school district.


rtfa


This isn't new...
By Boze on 10/13/2010 8:32:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"This is an age where kids explore their sexuality, so there's a lot of that going on in the [kid's] room," said Pennsylvania's ACLU legal director Witold Walczak back in February. "This is fodder for child porn."


Hate to break it to him, but that's been going on for centuries... its definitely not a 21st century phenomenon. That said, I'm really pissed that so many of these cases end up civil suits only and not criminal; I'm also sick of seeing people "settle" as soon as there's a dollar waved in front of their face. Instead of suing for money, which is basically suing the constituency of the local government and giving that money to this one family, how about we sue to ensure this never happens again, a formal apology be issued, and mandatory training for the entire school district faculty on privacy rights.

We don't to keep taking money from ourselves and giving it over to someone else in the community; we need to educate the uneducated so these problems don't arise again.

We also need to have some balls and stop "settling" and actually see a trial through. And while we're at it, someone please inform the other adults, who seem to have forgotten somehow, that teenagers are, in general, really effing stupid, and do really stupid sh*t, that's part of being a teenager...




"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki