As parents who consider the teachers and officials at our schools to be respected partners in educating our children as well as people to whom we entrust some of the work of molding their character, including their understanding of moral behavior, we wish to express our solidarity with Dr. Christopher W. McGinley, the Superintendent of Schools for the Lower Merion School District and the Board of Directors, as they handle the issue of privacy with regard to the free laptop program.
We are aware that the addition of security- tracking software to laptops on loan should have been clearly communicated to students and parents alike, but we do not believe that there was any malice or duplicity underlying the omission. It was a misstep that could have been avoided, but we do not believe that it was done deliberately. We understand that the feature was activated only when a laptop was reported missing, or when it had been removed without authorization, and that over one third of those laptops were recovered through its use without any complaint.
We understand that the use of the webcam feature on the laptops is optional and that students routinely appreciate its existence and use it frequently even though there is no requirement that they do so, and that they are free to disable the feature by placing tape over it. As such, we value the trust placed in the integrity and good sense of our children, and the expectation that the learning of discretion and honorable behavior is as important a part of their education in this school system, as the acquisition of graded skills.
We believe that our children are both willing and able to rise up to the standards of behavior expected of them as students who have been given access to personal laptops, a program that is not available to most students in this country, and that we have done our part, as their parents, to ensure that they understand the responsibilities that come with it.
We therefore stand together as parents who value the work of the remarkable human beings in whose care we place our children, both teachers and all staff, from the janitors who manage the facilities to the administrative officials who form policy, and call for a non-litigious end to this issue which has only served to detract from the far more important work of addressing their educational needs.
No Spying in PA School Laptop Case
Philadelphia Inquirer Opinion by LMSD parent, Susannah Chang
Another Picture of a District
Carol Cafiero's interview in the Philadelphia Inquirer
School Official says Lower Merion lacked laptop policy
Philadelphia Inquirer article on news released to media April 19th, 2010
Web cams snapped 56,000 images
LMSD statement on April 16th, 2010
Lower Merion School District Statement on Webcam Tracking.
AP Report on Motion to Intervene
Parents Oppose Philly Webcam Suit
Philly News article about the two long-term IT staff at Lower Merion HS who have been placed on paid administrative leave:
Two LMSD IT Staff Placed on Leave
Philadelphia Daily News column by Ronnie Polaneczky about parent involvement:
I Feel Terrible about Webcamgate
Petition to Opt-Out of Participating in Class Action Lawsuit:
Philadelphia Inquirer article on opposition to the class-action classification:
Parent Group Opposes Class Action Suit
Philadelphia Daily News article regarding Narberth Borough meeting
Parents Meet to Slam Lower-Merion Spy-Cam Suit
NPR coverage of the Narberth Borough Meeting
Some Lower Merion Parents
Philadelphia Inquirer coverage of the Borough Meeting
Lower Merion Parents Meet
Zimmerman article on appropriateness of personal laptops:
Should Schools be Giving Out Computers?
Website for the District:
Lower Merion School District
LMSD responses to the lawsuit:
Statement from Superintendent of Schools, Dr. McGinley.
Initial Response from LMSD to allegations
Details of the complaint against the LMSD:
Complaint as filed by on behalf of the Robbins
Opinion of legal expert from George Washington University, Orin Kerr:
A Few Thoughts on Robbins v. Lower Merion School District
If anyone wishes to search public court records, here is the link:
Montgomery County Prothonotory Records
Article by Ru Freeman on commondreams.org regarding this issue:
The Ignorant Righteous v. The LMSD: The Rush to Judgment.
Philadelphia Inquirer article today (February 25th, 2010) on the Robbins family history of lawsuits:
Laptop Family is No Stranger to Disputes