If the Lower Merion webcam controversy were one of those ABC After-School Specials I watched in my youth, the family of the allegedly aggrieved teenager would sit down with the principal, hash it out, and leave with handshakes and hugs.
This being reality, they sued the school district for supposedly spying on students. Now, Blake Robbins and his parents are starring in their own drama, something TV would love.
We're only at the first commercial break, but I can already predict where this show is going:
Heads will roll at the elite suburban school district, where grown-ups in glass offices failed this test. The Robbins family, too, will suffer for being the public face of the case.
The FBI and district attorney will unearth gigabytes of institutional arrogance and stupidity, but little to prosecute as a crime.
For all its bluster, the presumptive class-action lawsuit won't lure angry masses seeking money.
Parents may be peeved at administrators' audacity, but most folks don't buy that educators spent their free time eavesdropping on Dick and Jane's iChats.
Yet even a classless lawsuit will cost the image-conscious district dearly, a fact not lost on parents gathering online to clear their heads and the air.
"Why would I join the lawsuit? It would be like suing myself," noted Mary Walsh, who cofounded the Facebook group "Reasonable LMSD Parents Refusing to Rush to Judgment" and signed a petition in support of the school district.
"That lawsuit is going to take money out of my pocket, resources out of the school, and raise taxes for my friends and neighbors."
Until now, Lower Merion flaunted its forward-thinking decision to give $1,000 MacBooks to all 2,000 high school students. In one click, educators erased the digital divide between the rich and poor at no cost to taxpayers, thanks to state and federal grants.
"My first thought was, 'Oh, great, something else he has to carry around in his 20-pound backpack,' " recalled Lynn Thames, mother of a Lower Merion High 11th grader.
Her second? "That I should give a talk on Internet safety to parents." Thames runs a computer consulting firm and predicted the laptops "would open a huge can of worms."
Such as, who's responsible when teens transmit inappropriate photos between school-issued computers? (Because you know they will.) And, if school officials find criminal evidence on hard drives, who must they tell?
"We don't want them spying, but does the school district have a right to keep an eye on their property when the kids are at home?" asked Mary Butler, who has a son and daughter at Harriton. "I don't think they do."
And consider the plight of Karen Toole-Ebbert, whose daughter spent so much time iChatting that the otherwise focused Harriton sophomore's grades suffered.
"When I told her the new rules, she was screaming and crying. She was literally going through withdrawal."
So if a school laptop was the drug, is the district the dealer?
Even parents "refusing to rush to judgment" seem to agree that Lower Merion administrators should have been up-front about the high-tech snooping capability at the heart of the Robbins' lawsuit.
"Why didn't they tell us?" asked Chuck Barsh, father of a Lower Merion sophomore.
And, I'd add, why haven't school officials held a proper news conference to counter the allegations? Instead, they send late-night e-mails raising more questions than answers. Today, Harriton assistant vice principal Lindy Matsko will star in a Tiger Woods-like "press availability" where she will refuse to engage the press.
"Mistakes were made," acknowledged Butler, mother of a Harriton High 10th grader, "but I don't think it's the civil rights nightmare others have made it out to be."
She's right, of course. But in the court of public opinion, will it even matter?