Investigation rails school district in laptop spying case
PHILADELPHIA - May 4, 2010 (WPVI) -- According to the Lower Merion School Board's investigation, it was a case of too much technology and not enough responsibility.
The Board of Education released the results of its investigation at Harriton High School on Monday night. The sixty-nine page report offers a comprehensive and revealing examination of the school district's computer theft tracking program. The program reports sites that even the school district board and administrators were purposefully being kept in the dark about - this according to a key finding.
School Superintendent Dr. Chris McGinley told those in attendance Monday night, "Let me again offer my apology, both personally and on behalf of the Lower Merion School District, for every mistake identified in the report."
McGinley was remorseful in his apology after investigators hired by the district offered a scathing report on the webcam tracking program. Its key findings:
- The School District failed to adopt the official policies or procedures governing the use of the webcam tracking program.
- Overzealous and questionable use of program by IT personnel without any regard for privacy.
- IT staff withheld information about the program's capabilities and their use of it from the Board, administrators and students.
- Former director of the program, Virginia DiMedio, saw value in keeping the program secret
Hockeimer told the board, "We have not seen any evidence of spying - any evidence of intentionally targeting a student in any inappropriate way."
But Charles Mandrachia, the attorney representing Carol Cafiero, one of the IT staffers, said he's not buying that the school district did not know what was going on. "They absolutely should have known. If they didn't know, it's total negligence on their part."
Mark Saltzman, the attorney representing the Robbins family, who filed the lawsuit against the district exposing the program, said, "We're thankful that we've been vindicated, in terms of Blake Robbins being vindicated about all the misuse going on. We're still a little concerned that the true story is not completely known yet and I need some time to digest the report."
It is also interesting to note that when Virginia DiMedio left the program last summer and George Frazier came on board to replace her as head of the IT program, he referred to it as the "Wild West" because there were few policies and procedures governing the department.
A plan is still being worked out to alert all the families whose kids were photographed.
pennsylvania, montgomery county, webcam controversy, local/state
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