The Lower Merion School District today acknowledged that investigators reviewing its controversial laptop tracking program have recovered "a substantial number of webcam photos" and that they expect to soon start notifying parents whose children were photographed.
Responding to a motion filed Thursday as part of a lawsuit brought by the family of a Harriton High School sophomore, School Board President David Ebby said the district's lawyers have proposed enlisting Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter to supervise a system by which parents are to be notified and allowed to view the photos.
"We hope to start that process shortly," Ebby said in a statement addressed to parents and guardians and posted on the district's website. "During that process the privacy of all students will be strongly protected."
Ebby's comments came a day after a lawyer for Harriton sophomore Blake Robbins filed a motion in federal court asserting that the system had secretly captured "thousands of images of webcam pictures and screen shots," including photos of students, the Web sites they visited and excerpts of their online chats.
School officials have thus far declined to say how many students were photographed by the system, which was instituted in September 2008 to locate missing or stolen laptops. The district has commissioned an internal investigation and promises to release its results within a few weeks.
"We do not feel it is appropriate for anyone other than the investigators to dictate the timing of the investigation and the release of complete findings," Ebby said today. "As we have made clear since day one, we are committed to providing all of the facts -- good and bad -- at the conclusion of the investigation."
Read the statement the Lower Merion School District released today regarding the issue.