Despite webcam privacy issues, supervisors never raised red flags

    A report commissioned by the Lower Merion School District says staff were overzealous in using surveillance technology but that there is no evidence of “spying” on students.

    A report commissioned by the Lower Merion School District says staff were overzealous in using surveillance technology but that there is no evidence of “spying” on students.

    The report leaves open the question as to why privacy issues were not raised by higher up district supervisors, or even law enforcement.

    The report says the laptop webcams collected images of walls, and dark rooms, as well as classrooms, students’ homes, and photos of students and their family members.

    In several cases, the tracking was left on for months after the missing or stolen laptops were returned to their rightful owners. In some instances the district turned over evidence to police. But neither the staff members, nor school officials raised any red flags.

    Bob Wegbreit is the father of a ninth-grader in the district.

    “The law enforcement, I can’t tell you for the life of me why they didn’t pick their head up and say, ‘we can’t use this evidence. In fact, you shouldn’t be collecting this evidence,’” says Wegbreit.

    “The tech people, they should know better than going beyond collecting data. And once they handed that over that’s when the others should have said, ‘why are we doing this? Why do we have pictures inside somebody’s house?’”

    A spokesperson for the Lower Merion Township police said, due to the ongoing federal investigation, they could not comment.

    As for the student who filed the lawsuit, the report says the webcam and screen shots were activated because the family was not up on its laptop insurance payments. But 10 activations of the program were done for unknown reasons.

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