56,000 Photos Taken in Student-Laptop Scandal

Parents of other students will get to view the webcam images of their children.

An investigation has uncovered tens of thousands of webcam photos and desktop screenshots were captured from student-issued notebook computers in the Lower Merion School District.

Lower Merion School District attorney Henry Hockeimer says an internal investigation found that 56,000 shots were captured to find 80 missing computers over two years.

The district admits students were most likely photographed inside their homes, but that none of the images appear to be inappropriate.

The Robbins family supplied one of the alleged photos to NBC Philadelphia last Friday. It shows 16-year-old Blake Robbins sleeping in his bed. The Harriton High School sophomore claims 400 photos were taken over a two-week period including shots of him partially dressed.

The Robbins' filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the 1,800 students part of the Montgomery County district's computer program back in February.

The family filed an updated motion last Thursday charging district employees enjoyed spying on the students and says they even called the spying a "soap opera," according to court documents.

A remote tracking software called LANRev was deployed on every LMSD-issued Apple MacBook computer to track lost or stolen systems. That software, which has since been renamed to Absolute Manage, was set to capture images and an IP address every 15 minutes.

The district previously said the tracking system was only used intermittently to find 42 missing computers. But Hockiemer says the investigation found the feature was left enabled for months, in some cases.

"There were no written policies or procedures governing the circumstances surrounding activating the program and the circumstances regarding turning off the activations," Hockeimer said.

About 10 officials were authorized to request to have the feature enabled. More than half of the shots taken over the two-year period were captured from six computers allegedly stolen from a locker room, according to the district.

In a court appearance last Friday, IT coordinator Carol Cafiero pled the fifth when she was asked questions about the case including whether she ever downloaded any of the photos to her hard drive.

Cafiero and another staffer Michael Perbix were placed on administrative leave in the wake of the original lawsuit and FBI investigation.

The federal judge presiding over the case plans to show families the photos taken of their teens this week.

The district will also release the findings of its internal investigation in the coming weeks.

"We are committed to providing all of the facts -- good and bad -- at the conclusion of the investigation," school board president David Ebby said in a statement.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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