User-agent: * Allow: / Legal news, political opinion, Satire, and lawyer thinking by Tim Paynter, Attorney at Law: lmsdparents refuse entrance to Mark Haltzman FBI probe in pennsylvania web case

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

lmsdparents refuse entrance to Mark Haltzman FBI probe in pennsylvania web case

LMSD Parents ( refuses attorney Mark Haltzman entrance in
Pennsylvania web cam scandal
If there were not opposition to the Blake J. Robbins v. LMSD (Lower Marion School District) lawsuit one would have to be surprised. Actually, there were no surprises in the Lower Merion School District Parents meeting.

The people who have closed minds about suing the school district after it admitted taking secret snap shots of students, sometimes in their homes, are also closed minded when it comes to hearing the other side of the coin.  

The other side could have easily been presented by Mark Haltzman, attorney for Blake Robbins, who is suing the Lower Marion School District after he found out they were peeping on him through a computer web cam while he was in the privacy of the family home.  Blake was dining on Mike and Ike's candies  when the school administrators took the shot, or shots. That is when the fire works began.

"Ms. Lyn thought Blake was dining on pills, and lots of them"

Young 15 year old Blake was called on the carpet for "improper behavior" by Vice Principal Lyn Matsko. It is too bad Lynn didn't do her homework. Mike and Ike's would not take kindly to a teen feasting on the fruity candies being called "improper behavior".  As it turned out, Ms. Lyn thought Blake was dining on pills, and lots of them!  The photo to the left is from

A class action law suit was filed, LMSD fessed up, but now they want to play both sides of the coin. On the one side, they admit to the spying.  They had to do that much.  On the other side of the coin they tacitly encourage students and parents to do their dirty work for them.  

That brings us to LMSD Parents. They made it official, I guess, because they now have their own website, I guess it makes them look even more official because they used ".org" instead of ".com". This is a group of well meaning but ignorant parents who are tying to figure out how to fight the suit filed on behalf of master Robbins.

"Fortunately, even those who remain ignorant can procreate"

Why do I say they are ignorant? Well, they are not willing to listen to the other side. Closed minds usually breed ignorance. For example, according to, Jamie Singer from the .Org said:

"It makes no sense to me. It's like I'm suing myself,"

Jaime got into the meeting the attorney Mark Haltzman was locked out of because Jaime has two students in Herriton High School where young Robbins was confronted.  Fortunately, even those who remain ignorant can procreate.  Haltzman, on the other hand, might have had something to say. 

A comment like, "Why does it make sense to sue the people who were taking pictures of my children, possibly while in various states of undress?" is a logical question. It might be followed up with "Am I suing myself?"

Jaime wasn't asking whether a law suit was wise. He was telling us without having first consulted with a professional.  (I presume Jaime is a he, they would not let me into the meeting, either, had I asked)  Telling us which side to be on without listening to the other side is the kind of attitude that usually breeds ignorance.  And arrogant.

Ignorance is when you refuse to listen to the other side because you are sure you have all of the answers.  Arrogance is when you insist you are right while maintaining a hopeless state of ignorance.  Not letting Blake Robbin's attorney into the meeting guaranteed ignorance.  Watch the arrogance follow.  

"A lawsuit of this nature usually holds people accountable"

Let me give those who have open minds something to think about. The rest of you should go back to the meeting because no matter how many times you read this it won't help.

To begin with, a lawsuit of this nature holds people accountable for violating every notion of privacy and civility that makes up the fabric of our nation. A lot of our grand parents and great grand parents came to this country because they feared the camera well hidden. Next comes the knock at the door in the middle of the night.  There are no class action law suits in countries like that. You are guilty even if you are not guilty.

We should distinguish between school pride and wrong doing by LMSD officials. No one is attacking a state of the art teaching facility and wonderful teachers that are in Herriton Senior High School.  Nor is there an attack against the institution of learning. 

What is being attacked are outrageous acts on behalf of school administrators and board members who have also maintained themselves in a state of ignorance. Most of them probably have not studied the 4th Amedment to the U.S. Constitution nor do they understand the basic notions of the expectation of privacy and unreasonable searches and seizures.  I am sure they will disagree.   

At least we can say, most of them have not studied the laws regarding privacy in computing.  The Electronic Computer Privacy Act (ECPA) makes it illegal to intercept or listen in on computer communicatons.  They can get access to these laws on the internet.  Even on a laptop!

Those who have no interest in listening want to confuse the issues. Stand up for your school board. Stand behind your school. Don't sue yourself.

Don't buy into it.  This has nothing to do with schools or education or quality teachers.  It has to do with people who intended to do wrong and got caught.

Not all will agree with me about the intent.  Some will say these people only wanted to protect students and recover stolen lap tops.  Once again, confusion.  One can have a lofty goal, but if one intentionally breaks the law to get there then you cannot say they had good intentions.  Either they entered into what is already a self professed state of ignorance-even some of them will insist they were ignorant, or they knew law and arrogantly broke it on premise they were the government and could do as they wanted.

"An insurance company could pay out a lot of the money"

Now, for the suing yourself question.  If the suit is successful, tax payers could be paying out a fair amount of money.  That includes all tax payers including those who don't have students in Herrinton High.  Surely the school board has officers and director's insurance.  In that case, an insurance company could pay out a lot of money instead of the tax payers.
The picture of McGinley to the right is from

Then there is personal liability.  The school board members and Christopher McGinley might want to think about estate planning and transferring ownership of assets right now.  Just kidding. It is too late.  While the system will likely pay for legal defense, the system may or may not pay for damages if they are assessed.  That leaves school board members and Christopher between a rock and a hard place.

That is where people who do bad things should be. 
Money is beside the point. What this case is really about is making sure this kind of thing does not happen again. A little reflection time in a jail cell will help, if it comes to that. Money damages, however, are what school boards listen to the most. If the District has to pay for this intentional act of arrogance and ignorance, then it will be the last time you will have to worry about school administrators seeing your daughter naked on a school generated computer web program.

The evidence has yet to come out. You can bet there is serious sweating going on in the District right now. What are they going to do about the explicit photographs we have not seen yet? If these photographs have been already destroyed, well it may be a stroke of genius or it may be another stroke of stupidity and ignorance, depending upon whether they get caught!

One last thought for those of you who stuck around long enough to read this blog.  Ignorance and arrogance don't come from stupid people.  They come from people who are scared witless. Afraid of reputations and damage to egos, afraid they are wrong.  They are afraid of other people's children, so spying is o.k.  Ignorance is usually a choice.

Let's just hope, for their sake, none of their children show up in compromising situations in the photos!  That would be enough to scare the living daylights out of anyone!

According to reports, Mark Haltzman made a good point:

 "It is critical that someone independent of the Lower Merion School District investigate to what extent each student's privacy rights have been violated," 
My greatest errors have come as a result of action before investigation.  The information in this article comes from a fair amount of investigating on the web, but it is nothing more than an opinion.  No one has been proven guilty of anything.  No money judgments have been won.  Blake is asking you is to let a jury of your peers make the decision as to what was right and wrong in the Pennsylvania school web video spying case, and the responsibility of the LMSD and administrators in a well to do area of Philadelphia, P.A.  Each person must make his own mind up where he stands on law suits and video taping people without their consent in their homes.  The ones who will make intelligent decisions are the one's who listen to both sides before making a decision.


  1. Excellent article ; well put, logical , A long time problem has been schools seem to think they are above the law , rules do not apply to them -- This is an extremely interesting case-- with a lot of ramifications.

  2. Phyllis you hit the button on the nose!

    First, the ramifications. If LMSD wins you can expect more hidden spy cams in student bedrooms.

    Second, we know schools have a tough time with today's youth, but presuming the laws don't apply to them is a huge mistake and a bad lesson to teach to the student body who watches.

    This is an interesting case, which is why I am so taken with it. Understanding what this case could mean to all of us, with the precedent following into the adult population, is an important step in the democratic process. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Thought you might like to read this article. Amazing how wrong some people can be.

    Report: No spying in Pa. school laptops case

    By RON TODT (AP) – 11 hours ago