Posted by: reformedmusings | April 23, 2010

More developments in Lower Merion School District

The Lower Merion School District’s (LMSD) security nightmare/soap opera continues. To catch up, check out this post and this one. It’s hard to know where to start.

The school district’s insurance company is disinclined to pay for any part of the fiasco. They correctly maintain that the potentially criminal spying on people in their homes doesn’t come under the “personal injury” covered by their policy. Go figure. Looks like LMSD should have reviewed their coverage before putting remotely accessible webcams in their student’s bedrooms.

The respective lawyers met with the Federal judge to try and work out a settlement. If the school district leadership has half a brain, they should realize that they stand no chance of winning in a court case. 56,000 images points very nicely to a pattern of abuse and spying on students. According to reports, they took images of about 100 students.

The chief of information systems (IS) for LMSD had previously refused to give a deposition or allow her personal computer to be inspected. Now she is apparently willing to do both. Of course, she’s had plenty of time to wipe any evidence from that computer. There are free programs available to accomplish this in short order and to government security standards. I have no doubt that her computer will come up squeaky clean. Duh.

BTW, she and her sidekick are still on a paid vacation.

The actions and/or inactions of the adults in positions of authority and advantage in this situation are bad enough. Please note that the linked news stories on accept comments. Reading through those comments has proven to be quite a study of human nature. Some commenters have tried to blame the victim’s parents or even the victim by attacking their character, as if those irrelevant factors somehow mitigate the guilt of those who activated webcams in children’s bedrooms. The lack of logic should astound educated observers. It explains a lot about the current course of this country.

It also says something about double standards. This case primarily involves a female adult and male teenager. It has garnered some interest. However, had this involved a male adult and female teenager (and it may yet), this story would be front page across the nation. Something about which to think.

Lastly tonight, a group of parent who presumably were not victimized in this scandal have petitioned the court to avoid or limit awarding damages in the case. They fear that their taxes will be raised (although there is apparently a barrier to that at the moment):

The parents want answers and privacy assurances about the use of cameras on district-issued student laptops, they said in a court filing. But they also want to avoid costly damage awards or a drawn-out class-action litigation with high legal fees, they said.

No kidding. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” according to abolitionist Wendell Phillips. The price for lack of diligence varies, but it’s never pretty. I suspect that Lower Merion residents are about to learn the price of their complacency.



  1. I would petition the court to take the penalties directly from the individual holdings of the perpetrators and prosecute them individually as well as “corporately” as a District. As for the taxes in Merian School District being raised to pay restitution, I’m sure the sleepy, apathetic citizens can take comfort from the fact that the perpetrators’ computers weren’t seized before they had a chance to wipe away any incriminating evidence.

    The overarching theme is all of this seems to be that everyone is looking for some way to make someone else responsible for their bills, their mistakes, and their crimes. By their example, the Merion School District is giving the rest of the world a lesson in cowardice and irresponsibility. Government can always find someone else to blame (usually the victims) and someone else to pay the price (inevitably the taxpayers). Every one of them should be added to the sex offender registry and ineligible to work as educators at all.

  2. Robin,

    Well said. There’s little sense of personal responsibility left anymore. Everything is someone else’s fault. No one is responsible for their drinking, drug habits, crimes, or sexual conduct anymore. Everything is an illness or their parents’ or society’s fault. People want to live a consequence-free existence – a world full of cowards.

  3. […] Lower Merion webcam case update Yesterday I relayed that the administrator in charge of the laptop webcam surveillance program finally agreed to have […]

  4. […] One family and a graduated student sued the district, and the FBI investigated the situation. More on this sick situation here, here, here, here. All told, the district took some 56,000 photos with the laptops, including at […]

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