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Another laptop lawsuit resolved

L. Merion settles case with '09 Harriton grad.

The Lower Merion School District has resolved another lawsuit with a former student over its secret monitoring of student laptops.

The district reached a settlement last week with Joshua Levin, a 2009 graduate of Harriton High School.

In a lawsuit filed in June in federal court, Levin contended the district violated his civil rights by capturing nearly 8,000 webcam photos and screen shots from his school-issued laptop between September 2008 and March 2009.

Levin's lawyer said Wednesday the settlement proposal was larger than the $10,000 payments offered to other affected students but he would not discuss details.

"It's more than that but I can't tell you how much," Norman Perlberger said.

Attorneys for both sides said the settlement included a provision in which they agreed not to disclose the terms.

Lower Merion spokesman Doug Young said the district's insurer would contribute to the payout, but that the district's share of the settlement was still $10,000, the same as its first offer to Levin months ago.

He said that Levin's laptop was one of five stolen from the school and recovered by police and that there was no proof Lower Merion employees ever looked at images from the computer.

"From the beginning, this complaint was driven purely by monetary interests," Young said in an e-mailed statement. "Unfortunately, the plaintiff and his lawyer decided to use litigation as a wedge and a threat in their attempted pillaging of Lower Merion taxpayers for hundreds of thousands of dollars. That process wasted more than six months of time, energy, and resources."

The settlement still awaits school board approval.

The district paid more than $1.6 million last year in legal expenses and to settle allegations that it spied on students through webcams on the laptops it gave to each of its nearly 2,300 high school students.

The settlements included $175,000 paid to Blake Robbins, a Harriton student who exposed the practice in a lawsuit that drew worldwide attention. Earlier this month, Robbins' sister Paige filed a similar lawsuit.

That complaint is pending.