Saturday, February 20, 2010

Update on school spying of children via laptops

Yesterday I came across a news article about a school which was accussed of spying on children in their homes. A school loaned 1800 laptops to children. Software was on the laptops which would allow the schools to turn on the computer's camera. The school explains that it was only suppose to be used if the laptops were lost or stolen.

This whole issue bubbled to the surface when the school showed pictures of a student eating "drugs" which the student explained was "Mikes and Iks" a candy. The parents asked how in the world the school got pictures of things happening in their home, realized the school used the camera on the laptop and rightly yelled foul!

Here is a video with the boy, and his lawyer:

View more news videos at:

Wikipedia has an article with several links on this issue, the Blake J. Robbins v. Lower Merion School District case.

It appears there is enough national notice of this that it will be hard for the school to sweap it under the rug. But I still don't expect anyone to be fired.

Technorati tags: children, education, government schools, public school, public education


homeschool101 said...

Unreal. I hope they sue for every penny the school has and I hate to say it, the school should be closed and that means loss of jobs if they want to act like they did nothing wrong. If they wont hold those accountable shut it down then others will see they are paying for a punishment that needs to be stopped. Unfortunately it would take a major crisis to open peoples eyes!

Mimi said...

If preliminary reports are accurate, the Lower Merion School District employees who were involved in the use of web cams to "monitor" student laptops appear to be guilty of numerous felonies, The civil action filed in federal court in Pennsylvania alleges that the Superintendent and Board members are guilty of "invasion of Plaintiff's violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Computer Fraud Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act of 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, ,the Fourth Amendment, and the United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act...."

If actions such as these were conducted by any other individual, they would be held criminally liable, not simply civilly as the class action lawsuit stands to date. I trust that the District Attorney of Montgomery County and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will thoroughly and unbiasly investigate the allegations and not capitulate to the powerful school board associations both locally and nationally that will surely seek to absolve their members of any responsibility.

If this case remains solely within the civil courts, the only punitive consequences to pay for Lower Merion School District's malfeasance is monetary. And who pays the money to the victims? The taxpayers.... who are the victims themselves. And the student's themselves pay since the funding allocated for educational programs could be diverted to compensate the victims. This is clearly not an unacceptable outcome to such an egregious list of alleged crimes.

My daughter who is friends with a Lower Merion student sang songs while at a sleepover party in front of the Lower Merion School District issued laptop. Unbeknownst to this group of 12 year old girls, while clad in their pajamas, they could have been watched by the very people entrusted to their education,

Real justice and the best deterrent to such frightening abuse of power by school administrators happens if the wrongdoers are held personally accountable the way anyone else would be.

Mimi Rothschild
CEO,, Online Homeschooling Academies
Lower Merion resident and Educational Technologist

Robert M. Lindsey said...

A very full description of what went on is at

Henry Cate said...

Robert, thank you for the link.