A lawsuit brought against a Pennsylvania school district alleges school officials violated students' privacy by activating school-issued laptop webcams while they were at home.

Michael E. and Holly S. Robbins filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court against the Lower Merion School District, the district's board of directors and Superintendent of Schools Christopher W. McGinley, alleging they had violated the privacy of their son and the other high school students in the district.

The school district was in the final stages of issuing laptops, which included built-in webcams, to each of the approximately 1,800 students in its two high schools. According to the lawsuit, the Pennsylvania school district had been surveiling Blake and his classmates by remotely activating the webcams while they were at home.

School officials denied the allegations in a letter posted Thursday, Feb. 18, on the district Web site.

The students and parents were not informed that school staff could monitor their behavior, according to the lawsuit, which claimed that on Nov. 11 an assistant principal from Harriton High School told student Blake Robbins that the school district believed he was "engaged in improper behavior at his home." Her proof came from a photograph captured by the webcam that was embedded in his laptop.


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Tanya Roscorla  |  Managing Editor, CDE

Tanya Roscorla covers education technology in the classroom, behind the scenes and on the legislative agenda. Likes: Experimenting in the kitchen, cooking up cool crafts, reading good books.