Principal Accused in "WebcamGate": I'm No Spy

“At no time have I ever monitored a student via a laptop webcam"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC Philadelphia
    In an emotionally charged statement to the press Wednesday, Lower Merion School District administrator Lindy Matsko said she has never monitored a student on a laptop webcam

    Lindy Matsko is angry, and on Wednesday morning she shared her outrage with the public.

    The Harriton High School assistant vice principal has been accused in a recent lawsuit of using photos taken remotely by webcam on a school-issued laptop to prove 16-year-old student Blake Robbins “was engaged in improper behavior in his home.”

    WebcamGate: Administrator Vehemently Denies Allegations

    [PHI] WebcamGate: Administrator Vehemently Denies Allegations
    Lindy Matsko, the assistant vice principal of Harriton High School defiantly and emphatically denies allegations that she approved or was involved in any attempt to monitor students via school-issued laptops. (Published Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010)

    In an emotionally charged statement to the press Wednesday, Matsko said she has never monitored a student on a laptop webcam and she has never had the ability to use the district’s remote webcam activation software.

    “At no point in time did I have the ability to access any webcam through security tracking software,” Matsko said. “At no time have I ever monitored a student via a laptop webcam, nor have I ever authorized the monitoring of a student via a laptop webcam, either at school or within the home. And I never would.”

    WebcamGate: "I Too Would Be Outraged"

    [PHI] WebcamGate: "I Too Would Be Outraged"
    Lindy Matsko, the assistant vice principal of Harriton High explains why she can relate to the privacy concerns of other parents. (Published Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010)

    Though Matsko did not say whether or not she used photos taken from Robbins' webcam for disciplinary reasons -- the incident which sparked the chain of events leading to the class action suit, she said she looks forward to the day that she can respond to the allegations without pending legal action getting in the way.

    “I find the allegations and implications that I have or ever would engage in such conduct to be offensive, abhorrent, and outrageous,” said Matsko.

    WebcamGate: The Discipline Accusation

    [PHI] WebcamGate: The Discipline Accusation
    Harriton High school administrator, Lindy Matsko, responds to allegations of disciplining students for conduct outside of school. (Published Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010)

    Visibly angry, and at times emotionally upset, Matsko said that the claims made against her are “falsehoods and misperceptions,” that have subjected her, her husband and her teenage children to “unfair and unjustified attacks” and threatening e-mails.

    “[I] have had to sit in silence while my good name is being dragged through the mud,” Matsko said.

    “I have the same concerns regarding privacy that many of you have expressed,” she said. “If I believed anyone was spying on either of my children in our home, I, too, would be outraged.”

    Blake J. Robbins vs. Lower Merion School District claims the Lower Merion School District was using the remotely activated webcams on student laptops to spy on students and their families at home has sparked investigations by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office, as well as the attention of schools nationwide.

    Matsko is named specifically in an alleged Nov. 11 incident:

    “Plaintiffs were for the first time informed of above-mentioned capility and practice by the School District when Lindy Matsko…an assistant principal at Harriton High School, informed [Blake Robbins] that the School District was of the belief that [Blake Robbins] was engaged in improper behavior in his home, and cited as evidence a photograph from the webcam embedded in [Blake Robbins’] personal laptop issues by the School District.”

    The suit goes on to say that it was Matsko, when asked, that informed Robbins’ parents that the district had the ability to remotely activate any student’s webcam at any time without the user’s knowledge or permission.

    In a statement Wednesday evening, Blake Robbins said the case isn't about Matsko, but the district's decision to install the webcam software on student computers.

    "We believe that the Assistant Vice Principal Lindy Matsko is a good educator and a good person," Robbins said. "However, we note that nothing in Ms. Matsko's statement is consistent with what we stated in our complaint."

    Robbins says Matsko denied using the software to take photos and spy, but didn't confirm or deny looking at webcam pictures.

    He also went to to say that the software's manufacturer advises that only law enforcement officials should utilize the snapshot feature.