On Thursday, February 18th, the Lower Merion School District disconnected its secret Webcam spy operation from the 1,800 laptops it had distributed to its high school students, thus allowing the kids and their families to enjoy their constitutional and God-given right to privacy in their own homes.
The Lower Merion School District, located along the well-to-do Main Line suburban area of Philadelphia, has sent out letters of apology to parents for the distress they may have caused but still asserting that the Webcam was only used to track down stolen or lost laptops. Such an assertion seems a bit weak given that one of their Assistant Principals, Lynn Matsko of Harriton High School, attempted to discipline a student for his “inappropriate behavior” in his own home.
At the center of the controversy is Blake Robbins, a student at Harriton High School. Blake told CBS News that Assistant Principal Matsko accused him of taking pills and selling drugs. Matsko presented Blake with a photograph of himself taken in his home by the school district’s embedded laptop Webcam. The boy denies the illegal drug use accusation.
His complaints to the school and the school district having fallen on deaf ears, Michael Robbins, Blake’s father, initiated the lawsuit in order to get the school spy operation shut down. It is only when the news media grabbed onto this story that the Lower Merion School District felt compelled to take action and discontinue their sneaky use of the Webcam feature. Media attention has also sparked the interest of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office and there is an unconfirmed report that the FBI may have initiated their own investigation.
It’s amazing how Autocratic Academe can get so dazzled when it’s vain visage is caught in the accusing spotlight of media mania. So far, the agents of Big Education in Lower Merion township have not been available for public comment.
Hats off to Michael Robbins and his family for having the chutzpah to take on Big Ed. One small victory at a time.