User-agent: * Allow: / Legal news, political opinion, Satire, and lawyer thinking by Tim Paynter, Attorney at Law: FBI investigates Pennsylvania school spy cam in school - web cam in computer violates privacy, Blake Robbins says no to school spy cams!

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

FBI investigates Pennsylvania school spy cam in school - web cam in computer violates privacy, Blake Robbins says no to school spy cams!

Pennsylvania school laptop spy cam or web cam,

FBI investigates
Blake Robbins Rocks!
Go Herriton High!
Question: How do you know when someone is scared senseless they are about to be indicted for criminal activity?

Answer: When they hire an attorney before they get arrested.

Question: How do you know someone is scared senseless they are about to be indicted for criminal activity and they are guilty as hell?

Answer: When the attorney they hire is an ex-D.A.

Just because the Lower Merion School District hired former D.A. Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. to advise them about their spying on students using the web cam in lap top computers does not make the district guilty of criminal wire tap laws.  However, It makes them look guilty as hell...and they probably are. 

Herriton Senior High School
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"Will young people refuse computers for fear adult eyes will watch them come of age?"

Herriton High School located in the well-to-do Lower Merion School District of Philadelphia, PA, sent Apple computers home with most of the 2,300 students.  The goal was to give every student a chance at modern computing and 24 hour internet access. 

The school district got the modern computing part right.  What they got wrong was turning the gift of education into a spy machine.  Incredibly, the school secretly inserted software that allowed them to take prictures of students using the computer web cam without anyone knowing they were doing it. 

It is absurd for the school to claim their surreptitous pictures would not be taken in deeply private places, like bathrooms and bedrooms.  Nothing in my research suggests the school has made such claim.
That leaves the Lower Merion School District devising a way to spy on under-age teens and their parents in a way that would make the most inventive peeping tom jealous.

In the process of over-reaching government authority, the school district has destroyed the trust and bond between teachers and stuents necessary for the quality education the school purports to give.  They have set the "every student gets a computer" movement back ages.  How can schools in poor districts convince students to take advantage of a program like this?  Those who suffer great poverty already have a mistrust for their government.  As it turns out, those in affluent school districts should have mis-trusted the Herriton Senior High School administrators.

We know the school had only the best of intentions.  That is why they activated the cameras 42 times in 14 months.  That is why they arrogantly spat back at allegations of spying, instead of humbly admitting their error.  A Fox News article, for example, is titled "School District Fights Back".  And that is also why they hired ex-DA Henry.  Henry Hockeimer Jr., by the way, turns out not only to be an ex-DA, but an ex-federal prosecuting attorney, a kind of hired gun likely retained to make local and federal investigators think twice.  It won't work.

"Blake Robbins likes Mike and Ike's"

Although we don't know how the topic was broached, school personel asked Blake Robbins to meet with them.  Imagine Harriton Senior High vice principal Lindy Matsko smugly confronting the 15 year old student with what school officials viewed as "improper activity".  In my day that would have been excessive masturbation, but it was a simpler world back then.  According to reports, this confrontation between the school and a 15 year old, Likely not the first confrontation between student and administrator considering there were 41 spy sessions before it, was about illegal drug use.

Unfortunately for Ms. Lindy and for the school district, young Blake likes Mike and Ike's.  They are a zingy sugar treat that come in multiple colors and look remotely like amphetamines.  Remotely.

"The school was looking for Blake's lost computer, an item he never reported stolen, duh..."

By process of deduction, the school was looking for Blake's lost computer, an item he never reported stolen, duh...  We have to deduce because the school won't say.  Harriton High School spokesman Douglass Young did indicate the school would never activate their remote spy camera for disciplinary reasons.  They only used it to locate computers like the one which Blake never reported stolen.  Why, then, did the school administrators activate the spy cam in Blake's computer?  Why won't they make the 'lost computer' claim in this case?

Blake J. Robbins v. LMSD says it in his own words...

If you are having trouble following spokesman Young's logic, you understand why a subpoena reportedly has been issued.  Both civil and criminal litigators want to know what other pictures the school has on file, and likely whether there are some sticky palms in the photo review lab.  These kinds of images tend to get misplaced, so for the benefit of all parties the attorneys want to preserve this evidence.  It will be interesting to see whether the school district finds reasons to object.

"They thought I was popping pills when really I was just eating Mike & Ikes"

Young Blake has his own theory about the outrageous intrusion: 

"They thought I was selling drugs because they thought I was popping pills when really I was just eating Mike & Ikes. So they thought that I could possibly be selling drugs, too – which they found out they were wrong about," the boy told reporters. "I just hope that they're not watching me."

Apparently, what the spy in the sky saw while the school district was attempting to recover a computer that was never missing was Blake stuffing down tutty frutys.  If you ever had Mike and Ike's you know why no one eats just one. 

The school mistook the web cam images as a 15 year old who was into dealing drugs.  In another complete lack of common sense, take a look at the pictures of Blake in his boxing match below.  He hardly looks like the drug dealer type.  That should have been a tip off something was wrong, but then, these fools seemed clueless about basic notions of privacy from the very start.  
Article continued below
How the spy cam works. 
Details you should know! 

 More insight at  Kevin's Security Scrapbook

Blake must have a lot on the ball because he didn't take the spy session kindly.  Neither did his parents, Michael and Holly Robbins.  If this had been a poor school district there might have been a protesting phone call which would have been soundly ignored.  In this case, an entire school board with rocks in their heads forgot a well known fact.  Well-to-do families have the means to hire attorneys, and that is what the Robbins family did. 

"Hurting pups come in liters"

Mark Haltzman, Steven Levin and Frank Schwartz from the law firm of Lamm and Rubenstone have asked the Court to certify the case as a class action law suit.  If they are successful they will, by default, represent the entire student body at Herriton High.  Considering the evidence, even though the Merion School District is located in an affluent area of Philly, the school district is about to be a hurting pup!

Hurting pups come in liters.  The Merion School District is not the only defendant.  The lawsuit names the board of directors and school superintendent Christopher W. McGinley.  One would hope this does not discourage interest in running for the board of directors of your local school board.  Rather, one would hope candidates would take the walnuts out of their heads before they run. 

"a lot of students could have free educations instead
of free laptops"

School administrators in general, on the other hand, have always been a hopeless cause in the walnut department.  Christopher may be the exception, but the school board has good reason to pay for independent legal counsel for both Christopher and the entire board of directors.  Since each defendant has conflicting interests from the others, each defendant should have his own attorney.  The legal fees alone could be astronomical.  If the District losses, let's just say a lot of students could have free educations instead of free laptops.

Meanwhile, a group of well meaning but wholly ignorant parents are meeting to oppose certification of the student body as a class.  They call themselves which presumably stands for Lower Merion School District Parents.  The original title is apparantly named after the Lower Marion School Districts newsletter which is titled  The group is headed by  Bob Wegbreit , Tom Grady, Larry Silver and Michael Boni.  It would be interesting to see which of the four rocket scientists has the biggest ego.
Blake Robbins is no push over!

Does he look like a druggie to you? Probably not, but this isn't Blake anyway... is it?


Face it boys, laptops end up in private places like toilets and bedrooms and who knows, even the back seat of a car.  If you let government cameras into your intimate places then you might as well say good by to notions of freedom.  Maybe you don't see your school board as 'government'.  Trust me, your kids do. 

You likely will join your kid when a vice principal like Lindy Matsko calls you in to tell you they caught Jr. naked with his future wife in the classroom, and by the way, they have it all in snap shots if you want it for the wedding album!  Those who oppose the lawsuit could find out the hard way, most of us leave laptops running all of the time, and the camera is indiscriminate.  The pics could have been of Blake's parents in private moments had Herriton Senior High School had more bad luck!

A few folks in the Lower Merion School District know they are in hot water.  They don't have any problems manipulating well meaning students and parents playing on the theme, 'school pride'.  They say their intentions were good even if they forgot to tell everyone about playing spy.  They still have not admitted that taking the pictures under any circumstances would be a massive invasion of privacy.

One of the hardest lessons in life is learning actions count, not words.  Understanding that someone who slides their thumb up the brown hole on your back side while telling you what a great friend they are is the most insideous enemy you can have.  Spying on 15 year olds, girls too, is not the action of a well meaning friend.  Manipulating the PTA to take your side, and even attorny Boni, when you know you are wrong, wrong, wrong, is not the the action of a well meaning friend.

Everyone is innocent until proven guilty and that includes rocks and walnuts.  The views expressed in this post are an opinion, made upon my best knowledge, information and belief.  Honestly, I don't know much beyond what I read.  The Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, as well as the FBI, may want to know more, though.  More about that as events develop.

This is history in the Making: The Pennsylvania lower Merion School District at Herriton High, Blake Robbins, Lindy Matsko, Christopher W. McGinley, Henry E. Hockeimer Jr., spokesman Douglass Young, and will all play a part in how far your government can go in policing your children, and eventually you.  Can we or can we not activate spy cams in laptops carried into intimate places without telling anyone about it?  Should our government be able to activate them even if they do tell you?

If it ends up at the Supreme Court, attorney Mark Haltzman with Lamm Rubenstone will make a good argument about why this is an outrageous abuse of power.  In my opinion, a school board that permits this kind of over-sight is incredibly arrogant in thinking it can supervise your child better than you can, while the teenager is sitting in front of you, in your own living room.  In the alternative, this board of directors is incredibly stupid and uneducated about the law and basic civil rights.  In either case, the way we dissuade this thinking is through money damages, and lots of them.  The 4X6 cell comes next!

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