Lower Merion board to take webcam vote

LOWER MERION TWP., Pa. - August 16, 2010

The new policy would ban remote activation of webcams on the district issued laptops. Also among the changes, parents and students would also have to sign a consent form indicating that they understand that there is no expectation of privacy. The new policies being considered can be reviewed on the school web page lmsd.org.

School district officials have been fine tuning the new policies and regulations for the past few weeks.

Lower Merion School District Superintendent Chris McGinley told those attending a meeting last month, "We will be sending a lot of new information to parents on all levels this year around issues of technology."

Whatever new policies are enacted, the school district plans to go out of its way to make sure all students and parents know what they are.

The development comes in the wake of a lawsuit and federal investigation into how, when and why Lower Merion officials activated the webcams. An investigation commissioned by the district found that the webcams had been activated 80 times and generated more than 56,000 photos - mostly from laptops that had been reported missing or stolen.

Student /*Blake Robbins*/ learned that his was one of them when an assistant principal confronted him with a picture secretly taken in his bedroom by his webcam showing him with a handful of what she thought were illicit drugs.

Robbins says it was Mike and Ike candy.

This case has prompted educators across the country to reexamine where protecting school property ends and invading student privacy begins.

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