A federal judge said Monday that he would not throw out a subpoena for a Lower Merion School District technology coordinator in a laptop Web-cam lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Jan E. DuBois said Carol Cafiero might have information useful to the case because she was able to activate the cameras on the student-issued computers. Cafiero is trying to block efforts to get her to testify in the case.
The district was sued in February by the family of Blake Robbins, a Harriton High School sophomore, alleging that its right to privacy had been violated by the district's Web-cam surveillance on a laptop he had at home.
The district has said the cameras were activated remotely 42 times in an effort to recover laptops that could not be found.
The judge said Cafiero could assert her Fifth Amendment right not to testify at a deposition in the case. He said she has not been indicted or named in a target letter.
In a related development, a second Harriton student and his parents filed a 37-page brief Monday in federal court in Philadelphia asking to intervene as second plaintiff in the Robbins suit.
Senior Evan A. Neill and his parents, Richard A. Neill and Elaine Louise Reed, asked the judge to bar the district from remotely accessing the laptops without creating safeguards.
Shortly after the disclosure of its Web-cam use, the district said it had ended the practice.
The Neills also asked for an expedited order to keep private any images or material obtained remotely via school-issued laptops, including streaming video, audio tracks, and still shots made from video. No damages are being sought.
Evan Neill had a school-issued laptop the last two years and kept it open and running, according to a statement issued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which is representing the family along with private counsel.
"Evan primarily used the laptop in his personal bedroom, but occasionally moved the laptop into other rooms in the house that he shared with his family," the statement said.
Henry E. Hockeimer, the district's Philadelphia-based attorney, said in an e-mail that "the district has no intention of making any photos public."
"Per Judge DuBois's order, the district will respond to this motion to intervene in the next day or so," Hockeimer wrote.
It could not be determined Monday night whether Cafiero's attorney would appeal the judge's refusal to quash the subpoena.