Harriton High School Spy Cam Story Grows – to 56,000 Images by Linda Dobson
In a nutshell: Lower Merion School District personnel are admitting to activating the spy cameras on school-issued laptops “about 80 times in the past two years,” producing 56,000 images that include pictures inside their homes. With the investigation ongoing, the number could change.
It is claimed that those activations are “explained” in all but 15 instances, for which “investigators have been unable to identify exactly why a student’s laptop was being monitored.”
The federal magistrate judge is still working on arrangements to show parents photos of their children.
Ten employees could request activation, but only two – Carol Cafiero and Mike Perbix – could turn the tracking on and off. “But the requests were loose and disorganized,” stated the school district’s attorney, Henry Hockeimer. “The whole situation was riddled with the problem of not having any written policies and procedures in place, and that impacted so much of what happened here.”
APRIL 21, 2010 UPDATE – by Derrick Nunnally, another Philadelphia Inquirer staffer
An attorney for school employee Cafiero, on paid leave as previously reported, made a court filing on her behalf stating student Blake Robbins should have had no expectation of privacy.
It was not immediately clear if the school district agreed with any of the arguments made in Cafiero’s court filing. Reached Tuesday night, Hockeimer, the former federal prosecutor who is the district’s lead lawyer in the dispute, said “no comment” when asked about Cafiero’s filing.
Revelations about the laptop security system’s use have also prompted a federal investigation, and on Tuesday, Cafiero told an FBI agent that she had a “very limited” role in the Web-camera usage, her lawyer said.