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    $610,000 settlement ends laptop spying case

    The Lower Merion School District will pay one student $175,000 and another $10,000 over invasion of their privacy. Images and screen shots were taken for years without permission.

    The Lower Merion School District has agreed to pay $610,000 to settle the laptop spying case that made national headlines when a high school sophomore and his parents sued the district over invasion of privacy. District officials had used the laptop’s webcam to snap photos of him in his home.

    School board officials voted Monday to set up a $175,000 trust fund for student Blake Robbins. A second student who sued later will get $10,000. The settlement also covers $425,000 in legal fees for the attorney representing both students.

    District spokesman Doug Young says the lawsuit resulted in a complete overhaul of laptop policies.

    “Over the past last half of this year, we’ve taken a very aggressive approach to make sure our policies, procedures and parameters are not only sufficient but they’re a model,” said Young.

    On top of the $610,000 settlement, the district itself racked up about $1 million in legal fees. This week’s settlement stems from an agreement by the school’s insurer to pay $1.2 million toward the costs.

    The district’s internal investigation turned up more than 50,000 images and screen shots taken over two years by school officials without the knowledge of students or their parents.

    The FBI launched an investigation but decided not to bring criminal charges.

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