Smile! You’re on Candid Camera! That’s what the School District of Lower Merion has to say to its high school students and their families. The Lower Merion School District, located along Philadelphia’s monied Main Line, distributed 1,800 laptops to their high school pupils. Ostensibly given out to ensure that the students had access to the school district’s resources on a 24/7 basis, the laptops also came equipped with embedded Webcams. But what the school authorities failed to tell the students and their parents about this government funded giveaway was that the Webcams could be remotely activated by the school district at any time without the students or parents’ knowledge nor indeed their consent.
When high school student Blake Robbins was called into the office of Assistant Principal Lindy Matsko and told that he was engaging in ‘improper behavior’ in his home, imagine his surprise when Ms. Matsko cited as evidence a photograph taken of him by the embedded Webcam from the school issued laptop. When the boy’s irate father asked for an explanation for this home invasion, he was told that the school district “could at any time choose to view and capture whatever images were in front of the Webcam”. One has to wonder that with 1,800 student laptops distributed, just how many photographs have been routinely taken inside the homes of Lower Merion taxpayers.
The boy’s family has initiated a class action lawsuit against the Lower Merion School District and its Superintendent Christopher McGinley for violations of various laws and statutes including: the Electronics Communication Privacy Act; the Computer Fraud Abuse Act; the Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Surveillance Act; and the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
So we have a school district secretly monitoring the private home activities of its students and their families without giving such despicable actions even a second thought. We have an Assistant Principal arrogantly assuming the right to discipline a student for what she deemed inappropriate in-the-home behavior while doing a complete run around the boy’s parents. And we have a well-to-do school district crowded with upper middle class families getting government funds to buy computers for 1,800 well-heeled high school kids.
Our Brave New World of Professional Busybodies and We-Know-Better Bureaucrats leaching their livelihoods from a Put Upon Populace. Their disdain for the American taxpayer barely disguised.