This story just keeps on getting better by the minute. The Mercury, a local newspaper / website in Pottstown, Pennsylvania covering the Lower Merion webcam school scandal, is reporting the school board was spying on its students and caught Harriton High School student Blake Robbins doing something "wrong";
An assistant principal at Harriton High School told him (B. Robbin') the camera had caught him doing something inappropriate at home.
Further news reports indicated the principal said Robbins was questioned about selling drugs because he was seen on the webcam holding what appeared to be capsules. In fact, he was holding pieces of Mike and Ike candy.
Blake Robbins' parents, Holy and Michael Robbins, have filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against the Lower Merion District School Board. What started out as an ability to find lost laptops has flushed out what the School board was really doing - proactively spying on its students and threatening them with information collected.
The local police and FBI are investigating. A Federal Judge has ordered the school cease further use of the webcams and applications used to spy on students with school provided laptops.
The ACLU of Pennsylvania have come on board submitting an Amicus brief in support of Robbins' suit. In a telephone interview with Vic Walczak of the ACLU (PA), Walczak said the 4th amendment has been violated.
"no legal process followed, and the school board had no legal right to investigate and violate this individual's home on its own".
"This wasn't a specific investigation on school property, but at a student's home, there's no legal footing the school has spying on a student while he or she is at home, even if the student is using school supplied laptops."
The ACLU's amicus brief conclusion sums it up nicely;
In sum, plaintiffs are likely to prevail on their claim that the school district's non-consensual, warrantless surveillance of young Mr. Robbins, inside the privacy of their home, violated the Fourth Amendment. In light of the potentially egregious invasion of privacy attending surreptitious video surveillance inside the home, and the irreparable harm caused thereby, the ACLU-PA wholeheartedly endorses the plaintiffs' request for an immediate order enjoining the defendants, and others who may be acting in concert with them, from using any electronic surveillance on students outside of the school grounds unless they comply with Title III and the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement.
I don't think we've heard the last about the Lower Merion District School Board use of webcams spying on its students. Clearly the Merion faculty is in way over there their heads in understanding the law. Perhaps somebody should oversee the faculty let alone the students.