In a voice that swelled and quavered with apparent anger, Harriton High School Assistant Vice Principal Lindy Matsko this morning decried the "many falsehoods and misperceptions" about her role in the Lower Merion school's webcam tumult sparked by a student's lawsuit.
"At no time have I ever monitored a student via a laptop webcam," said Matsko, who is in her 25th year working for Lower Merion School District, "nor have I ever authorized the monitoring of a student via a laptop webcam, either at school or in the home. And I never would."
Matsko, speaking for the first time since the suit was filed last week, did not take questions after the six-minute statement she delivered in the Center City office of her attorney, Dennis Abramson.
She said she has been the recipient of "numerous" mean and threatening emails.
Reading from a sheet of paper that shook in her hands, Matsko said allegations she participated in monitoring Harriton sophomore Blake Robbins in his home via the camera of his school-issued MacBook were "offensive, abhorrent and outrageous," her volume rising after every word.
The Robbins family responded this afternoon.
Standing in shivering cold without a coat near the foot of his family's unplowed Penn Valley driveway, Robbins, 15, flatly read a 11/2-page statement on his attorney's stationery. He alleged that despite Matsko's disavowal of spying on students, "someone accessed my webcam and provided Ms. Matsko with a screenshot and a webcam picture of me alone in my bedroom."
Matsko referred several times to her own two teenage sons and said she had the same concerns about student privacy as the parents in her district.
"If I believed anyone was spying on either of my children in my home, I, too, would be outraged," Matsko said.
She later added that, in more than a decade as assistant vice principal, she had "never disciplined a student" for actions beyond school property that had no connection to a school-related event, apparently in response to the Robbins lawsuit's allegation the student learned of the webcam surveillance from a school disciplinary action.
"That is not, has never been, and never should be my role," Matsko said. "As a parent, I would adamantly protest and object to any attempt by my children's school to mete out discipline based upon conduct engaged in outside of school."
In the Robbins family statement, the Harriton sophomore asked other families to "demand that the Lower Merion School Board authorize its attorneys to turn over" all pictures from the surveillance.
"To delay this litigation any further," the boy read, his bangs hanging into his face, "by refusing to promptly turn over this information only causes the school district to incur additional legal fees which are unnecessary."
Along with attorney Mark S. Haltzman, Robbins was flanked by three siblings and his parents, Michael and Holly Robbins. The family took no questions.