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Lower Merion School District Update

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the someone-to-watch-over-me dept.

Education 367

Mike_EE_U_of_I and jargon82 were among a number of readers who sent an update on the Lower Merion School District webcam spying case (see Related Stories for our discussions of the affair over the last couple of months). The school had originally stated that capturing laptop photos in students' homes had only happened 42 times. It turns out what they meant was that there were 42 instances when they began intensive surveillance on the suspected stolen computers. This consisted of (among other things) transmitting a picture from the laptop's webcam every 15 minutes. This may have gone on for weeks. In total, it appears that there were thousands of photos. One of the key administrators involved has been answering all questions about the program by invoking the Fifth Amendment.

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Surprise, Surprise (5, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873588)

Pics of the kid sleeping and "half dressed". Who knows what else they have of other kids. They are in deeeeeeep guano.

Re:Surprise, Surprise (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873728)

"No, no, your honor! It isn't what it sounds like! The images are called naughty_underage_schoolgirls0001.jpg through naughty_underage_schoolgirls0987.jpg because they are schoolgirls we suspected of stealing laptops, which is naughty, and we didn't want them to be charged as adults, because they are just students still... You have to believe me!!!"

Re:Surprise, Surprise (2, Interesting)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874020)

"Deep" doesn't even begin to cover it. Read the Philly articles if you haven't. Massive Collective Stupidity by Adults that Should have Known Better!

Jon Stewart's got at least a weeks worth of material to joke about here.

Re:Surprise, Surprise (3, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874192)

Massive Collective Stupidity by Adults that Should have Known Better! You are grossly overestimating the intelligence of the average school administrator!

Cameras show utility after all (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31874146)

This photo, allegedly taken surreptitiously by the Lower Merion School District through a laptop web camera, shows Blake Robbins sleeping at home at 5 p.m. on Oct 26.

The real question is, WTF was this kid doing sleeping at 5 pm instead of doing his homework? The kid doesn't even bother to take off his normal school day clothes when sleeping, which could mean wrinkles.

It's obvious that this Web 2.0 technology has utility. When parents are too busy to keep an eye on their kids, at least we know the school district will. If these school kids have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to worry about. It's just like going to the doctor; it's for their own good. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Re:Surprise, Surprise (4, Funny)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874214)

You mean Giggity*.

*Seniors over the age of 18 only.

You know what they caught... (5, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873590)

I'm sure they must've caught some of the kids masturbating.

Re:You know what they caught... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31874138)

I hope so. Then it becomes a CP case.

But this is bad news. It looks like they have found their patsy, and it is this woman. This woman does indeed deserve severe punishment, as she has seen much of the content and was making fun of the kids and families (according to the local channel 29 news). My fear is that it will stop at this IT administrator, and the school board, and the administration will get off scot-free.

Re:You know what they caught... (3, Insightful)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874186)

Don't forget the district's insurer. They'll be paying when judgment is found in the plaintiffs' favor.

Re:You know what they caught... (4, Informative)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874222)

she... was making fun of the kids and families

Gee, a public servant with utter contempt for the people she is being paid to serve... what a surprise!

Re:You know what they caught... (0, Flamebait)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874320)

Gee, someone stereotyping all public servants as contemptuous, what a surprise.

Hip hip hooray! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873604)

Congratulations are in order because our very own Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda has won the prestigious "Micropenis of the Decade Award" for 2010. For winning this prize, CmdrTaco will receive a lifetime supply of Extenze(TM) pills and a $50,000 voucher for penis enlargement surgery. For his wife, she has received a lifetime voucher of guilty free sex with as many big cocks as she can handle. Hopefully this will lead to her finally being able to be sexually satisfied for the first time in her life.

Re:Hip hip hooray! (1, Offtopic)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873674)

What a life you must lead, trolling around with that tiny tape measure and asking every guy on the internet to send you pictures of their junk. Hell, you could get a job with the Lower Merion School District with that type of experience.

Re:Hip hip hooray! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873794)

Can you send me a picture of your junk?

Re:Hip hip hooray! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31874008)

Can you send me a picture of your junk?

I don't know how but you can ask my school to send you a few...

Re:Hip hip hooray! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31874212)

I'm calling the cops on you you sick paedophile fuck. Enjoy the prison rape.

Lightbulb? (5, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873620)

One of the key administrators involved has been answering all questions about the program by invoking the Fifth Amendment.

No doubt he was instructed by his lawyer to do so. At least this means that the 'Oh Shit' lightbulb has finally gone off in someones head, someone finally is realizing that this could very easily end up with jail time and a spot on the sex offenders registry.

Re:Lightbulb? (3, Informative)

noodler (724788) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873730)

He is a she...

Re:Lightbulb? (5, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873866)

He is a she...

...as you are me and we are all together.
Goo goo ga joob.

Re:Lightbulb? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873746)

RTFA, you insensitive clod! The administrator who invoked the Fifth was a woman. Jumping to those sexist assumptions will end with all men getting a bad name.

Re:Lightbulb? (0, Offtopic)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874144)

A woman, eh? Well, why didn't you say so! In that case...

...niiiicccccce... [southparkstudios.com]

Re:Lightbulb? (0, Offtopic)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874270)

Too late...

SUX 2 B DEM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873778)

gonna be kind of hard to find work as a school administrator when you're, you know..., legally barred from being around children....

Re:Lightbulb? (-1, Redundant)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873788)

RTFA, you insensitive clod! The administrator who invoked the Fifth was a woman. Jumping to those types of sexist assumptions will end up with all men getting a bad reputation ;-)

Re:Lightbulb? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873848)

We (men) already have a bad reputation. What's this "getting" part, we got way past that a long ass time ago!

Re:Lightbulb? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873900)

Maybe this is my ignorance, but typically when some one "takes the fifth" they're refereeing to the self-incrimination clause of the fifth amendment. I've always assumed that since its a self-incrimination clause, you had to be guilty of some crime (or at least possibly guilty) in order to invoke it.

Re:Lightbulb? (5, Insightful)

ElSupreme (1217088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874130)

Well you don't have to be guilty. If there was a murder, and I did not commit it, I can refuse to answer questions that may incriminate myself. Like if I were to say I was in the same hotel in the next room that could be used against me in the court of law.

You should NEVER answer questions when being questioned. NO MATTER WHAT. Get a lawyer and have them speak for you. As they CAN NOT incriminate you.

the Fifth (4, Insightful)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874176)

It's not a "self-incrimination" clause, it is a clause against being a witness against yourself in a criminal case.

excerpt from the Fifth Amendment:

"nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself"

The difference that I'm trying to make is that there doesn't have to be a presumption of self-incrimination to invoke it, just that you don't wish to testify about something involving yourself.

Re:Lightbulb? (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874300)

could end up? from what I understand child porn is a strict liability offence some people will be on the sex offenders register for life has the head been sacked yet?

Fifth Amendement Right (5, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873640)

One of the key administrators involved has been answering all questions about the program by invoking the Fifth Amendment.

Which, to be fair, is entirely his or her right. Trying to infer guilt from this (tempting though it may be) violates what most of us stand for. Tossing that statement in at the end of the summary seems to be an attempt to imply guilt, though.

(Which isn't to say that I don't think this program was stupid and criminal.)

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (3, Insightful)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873660)

Where have you been lately? If you're accused of a crime it clearly means you're already guilty. How dare you go against the mob mentality!

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (2, Informative)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873872)

Lately?

It's always been that way. The whole innocent until proven guilty concept is actually quite radical - and even then it only applies to the governments assumptions - private citizens are free to assume whatever they want.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31874118)

Private citizens are subservient to the government [usavsus.info] . I believe the phrase you were looking for was sovereign individuals. Not that there are many of those left.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873726)

I thought only "natural people" could invoke the fifth amendment... can a school do it? SHE isn't the person on trial, the school is... right?

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873810)

I thought only "natural people" could invoke the fifth amendment... can a school do it? SHE isn't the person on trial, the school is... right?

Regardless of who or what is being investigated, any individual can invoke the 5th unless they have been granted immunity from prosecution. And just because you work for an organization or company does not mean you won't be prosecuted for crimes you commit on the job. Generally, they prosecute you then the victims go after the organization in civil court for not properly supervising you or for encouraging you to do it.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874294)

Regardless of who or what is being investigated, any individual can invoke the 5th unless they have been granted immunity from prosecution.

Pretty sure you can always invoke the 5th, period. There may be no reason to do so if you have immunity from prosecution, but you can still do it (particularly if there are other things you don't have immunity for).

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873830)

The school is the primary defendant in this civil case, but that doesn't preclude the possibility of criminal cases stemming from this. If she did something that might be (borderline) criminal, then she would want to shut up about it, rather than risk criminal prosecution.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1)

ElSupreme (1217088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874164)

No just being at the school (or in reality being questioned by police) she should invoke the 5th so that they can't use any information even remotly linking her with the ability to commit a crime.

Speak through your lawyer people.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874310)

Possessing images of naked children is WAY beyond borderline criminal.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (5, Informative)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873856)

Anyone can invoke the 5th amendment if they believe that answering the question will incriminate them. It doesn't matter if they are on trial or not. If you were accused of murder, and I saw you do it while I was across the street robbing a convenience store, I might choose to invoke the 5th rather than explain what I was doing while I saw you commit your act.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (5, Insightful)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873760)

I don't think it's an attempt to imply guilt, but more show the cracks in the formerly unified stance of the board et al. Fifth Amendment invocation is different than "no comment," and it shows that some members are starting to think of themselves, rather than the message.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874068)

I don't think it's an attempt to imply guilt, but more show the cracks in the formerly unified stance of the board et al. Fifth Amendment invocation is different than "no comment," and it shows that some members are starting to think of themselves, rather than the message.

IANAL but I'm pretty sure "no comment" won't fly in a deposition. If you don't want to answer the questions the Fifth is the only method.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873836)

True enough, but from just what is know without her testimony, it is enough for a multi-million dollar settlement and possibly a sex offender registry after jail time.

Further, answering questions about a school program bt pleding the 5th is way problematic as the kids are forced to go. Don't parents have a right to know what goes on with their kids?

This is closer to a government transparency problem, and if an offical pleded the 5th, I'd want him gone. Forever.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873904)

Actually, the fifth amendment right being invoked is a balancing mechanism. You're not allowed (legally) to invoke the fifth amendment for any statement that isn't self-incriminating, by definition; therefor, when you refuse to answer questions on those grounds, you indicate that you believe at least one of two things:

  • You're guilty of the crime you're charged with
  • You're guilty of another crime

At this point, we essentially know you're guilty of something; and by asking the right questions, we can force your answers to necessarily not contain other incriminating evidence of any relevance. In other words, it's dead easy to determine what exactly you're holding back, and prove your guilt.

However, because of the way the law is intended (not written...), we can't include that as evidence; your invocation of this right is completely off-the-record for purposes of determining guilt. More interestingly, invocation of the fifth amendment when you're not hiding anything self-incriminating could be assessed as perjury; so we again know you're guilty of one thing or another, but can't exactly prove what.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (3, Interesting)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873996)

Or the third option: "You may or may not be guilty of another crime, and talking may incriminate you if you are."

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (2, Informative)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874058)

therefor, when you refuse to answer questions on those grounds, you indicate that you believe at least one of two things:

  • You're guilty of the crime you're charged with
  • You're guilty of another crime

By your logic, it is impossible to invoke the Fifth Amendment without admitting belief in your own guilt...

Such thinking is wrong, of course, and defeats most of the purpose of the Amendment... One may be perfectly innocent and do the invoking merely to ease their defense, for example...

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (5, Insightful)

MrOctogon (865301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874128)

No way. The fifth amendment also protects the completely innocent.

Remember, "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law". The cops have no obligation to use anything in court that may help you, so saying you are innocent serves no purpose.

Often the best course is to shut up, get a good lawyer and let the evidence speak for itself.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (5, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874304)

Never Talk To Police. [google.com] It's 27 minutes. There aren't many visuals so you can listen to it in the background.

Basically NEVER TALK to police. Just don't. If you do have to say something let it be along the lines of: "Am I under arrest or am I free to go", "Do you have a warrant".

I was once arrested. AFTER being read my rights one cop kept pressing the issue. "What were you doing, why were you there" over and over and over. After the 4th time I asked him to please read me my rights again. Which he did. But he continued to ask. At which point I told him I was invoking my right to remain silent. He still pressed the issue.

This was brought up in court and helped my case, since it was seen as 'badgering'.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874230)

I think an innocent person could take the 5th to avoid the appearance of guilt. I.E., they might not want to admit being in a particular place at a particular time, even though they've done nothing wrong by any standard, because such an admission would incorrectly give weight to the prosecution's argument.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874246)

Or C:

The answer to the question will make me appear guilty.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (4, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874252)

The Fifth Amendment reads "no person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself". Not "no person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to incriminate himself". So no, we don't know that you're guilty of something, only that you've refused to be a witness in your case.

Every single (fair) judge in the country will instruct a jury that did not hear the defendant's testimony that they cannot infer anything from the fact that the defendant did not testify. That's established precedent.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (2, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873924)

I think it was put in there, because the students weren't given the opportunity to excercise that right (nor the 4th amendment). How nice of that administrator to hide behind the very document they tried to shred to pieces.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873930)

But but if youve nothing to hide youve nothing to fear and dont need to keep silent.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873960)

Trying to infer guilt from this (tempting though it may be) violates what most of us stand for.

There are real differences between civil and criminal juries. In civil suits, a jury is not very likely to give a person who invokes the fifth the benefit of the doubt, so what is happening here is that she's saving her own skin while possibly undercutting the school's defense. As far as a jury would be concerned, that is.

At the end of the day, though, civil suits are decided on a preponderance of evidence rather than a shadow of a doubt, so if the defense only ever invokes the fifth, they aren't supplying any evidence for their own benefit.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874046)

Trying to infer guilt from this (tempting though it may be) violates what most of us stand for.

I disagree. You obviously can't convict someone based on their invocation of the 5th, but you can darn well form an opinion of that person and their actions.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31874078)

I'm free to infer anything I want about her because she took the fifth. I'm not the judge and I'm not the jury. The constitution doesn't require me to be stupid and ignore something so blatant. Just like I don't have to listen to someone's free speech if I don't want to.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31874312)

I think there is a stigma attached to the Fifth Amendment that it is implicit of guilt. Tossing it at the end of the summary is accurate reporting and you the reader made the inference.

Re:Fifth Amendement Right (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874340)

Not at all. True, in criminal cases claiming the 5th is not to be used as evidence of guilt by the court. Private citizens such as ourselves have no obligation not to infer guilt from it. In civil cases the silence CAN be used as evidence of guilt. Some quotes from SCOTUS justices (from wikipedia):

The Supreme Court has held that "the Fifth Amendment does not forbid adverse inferences against parties to civil actions when they refuse to testify in response to probative evidence offered against them." Baxter v. Palmigiano, 425 U.S. 308, 318 (1976). "[A]s Mr. Justice Brandeis declared, speaking for a unanimous court in the Tod case, 'Silence is often evidence of the most persuasive character.'" Id. at 319 (quoting United States ex rel. Bilokumsky v. Tod, 263 U.S. 149, 153-154 (1923)). "'Failure to contest an assertion...is considered evidence of acquiescence...if it would have been natural under the circumstances to object to the assertion in question.'" Id. (quoting United States v. Hale, 422 U.S. 171, 176 (1975)).

Further, the 5th can legally only be used to prevent self-incrimination. It is illegal to refuse to answer questions where the answer would not incriminate you. In essence it is an admission of guilt except that you refuse to provide the details.

I other words we have every right to assume she is guilty as hell. My torch is ready, where is the mob?

He can plead the Fifth in jail too. (3, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873650)

One of the key administrators involved has been answering all questions about the program by invoking the Fifth Amendment.

Hope this asshat understands that pleading the Fifth isn't going to prevent a judge or jury from finding/ruling against him and punishing him.

"If I don't say anything I'm safe." doesn't work in the real world when you've already been caught.

Re:He can plead the Fifth in jail too. (0, Redundant)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873692)

Hope this asshat understands that pleading the Fifth isn't going to prevent a judge or jury from finding/ruling against him and punishing him.

RTFA ... SHE invoked HER Fifth Amendment rights.

FTFA:

Carol Cafiero, who had previously sought to quash a subpoena ordering her to testify, refused to answer questions pertaining to the district's controversial practice of remotely activating webcams on Apple MacBooks issued to high-school students.

Re:He can plead the Fifth in jail too. (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873786)

RTFA ... SHE invoked HER Fifth Amendment rights.

Which will just make things worse for her when the logs are read & the forensics finished.

Re:He can plead the Fifth in jail too. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874004)

RTFA ... SHE invoked HER Fifth Amendment rights.

Which will just make things worse for her when the logs are read & the forensics finished.

No, it will merely mean that she used her Constitutional right. She didn't want to give the opposing attorneys ammo they could shoot her with. They'll have to use evidence and facts instead of her own statements, which doesn't appear to make things too difficult for them.

Re:He can plead the Fifth in jail too. (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874324)

if the logs and forensics are damning then she is screwed anyway. No reason for her to help the process along.

Re:He can plead the Fifth in jail too. (2, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873858)

But what it does is protect her superiors. Do you really think that this was undertaken solely on the initiative of one admin?

She'll plead the Fifth, the prosecution will figure that there are bigger fish to be had and offer her immunity or a reduced sentence in return for testimony that will incriminate the others.

Re:He can plead the Fifth in jail too. (2, Insightful)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873948)

Hope this asshat understands that pleading the Fifth isn't going to prevent a judge or jury from finding/ruling against him and punishing him.

"If I don't say anything I'm safe." doesn't work in the real world when you've already been caught.

It does prevent you from getting yourself deeper into shit, however.

Subvert it... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873700)

The guy pleads the fifth. No problem. Then grant him immunity from prosecution and take that off the table. Then let the dozens of civil suits eat him alive.

Re:Subvert it... (-1, Redundant)

immakiku (777365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873842)

countless corrections later... it's a she, not a he.

Re:Subvert it... (2, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873852)

She

And that is a terrible idea. These people need to pay for what they have done. Prison time and sex offender registration, the whole 9 yards.

Pleading the fifth isn't going to do shit to protect them if the prosecutors have documented evidence showing what they have done, which it seems they have.

Re:Subvert it... (2, Insightful)

MrOctogon (865301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874148)

Exactly. Pleading the fifth does not get you off the hook. It just means they need real evidence to continue.

Done in so many threads above (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873962)

Said many times above, but the he you are referring to is a SHE.

But perhaps you didn't know the gender and are using the gender neutral form of him. Universal He [wikipedia.org]

Re:Subvert it... (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874026)

The guy pleads the fifth. No problem. Then grant him immunity from prosecution and take that off the table. Then let the dozens of civil suits eat him alive.

RTFAs. The case in question is a civil suit. I don't see any mention of criminal charges, but I do see mention of state legislation being introduced that would close the legal loophole the school district used.

Can you spell Paedophile children? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873762)

I didn't think so!!

Insanity in School Districts (5, Insightful)

Cheviot (248921) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873800)

I have never understood how school districts think.

On one hand they're terrified of getting sued. They have huge lists of things, even common, ordinary actions, that are not allowed to prevent even the slightest chance of getting sued.

Then, on the other hand, they take actions that random people on the street realize will cause a lawsuit. Strip searching students for searching for asprin, cancelling proms when gay students wish to attend, secretly spying on students with webcams. What the hell are they thinking?

Re:Insanity in School Districts (4, Insightful)

Bureaucromancer (1303477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873934)

Without speculating on the why or the how of the thing, school districts are chalk full of a particular kind of authoritarian and bureaucratic mindset that does this stuff without consideration of much of anything but immediate control of whatever problem they have at the moment (and more to the point think of that immediate exercise of authority being crucial - they just don't particularly care about the implications even if they are pointed out). The anti lawsuit stuff comes from the poor lawyers who keep having to sort out the messes made; in other words it's two completely separate groups setting those policies and getting the boards sued. Bear in mind I'm not saying all educators do this, any more than all cops are corrupt, but every school, like every police force, has at least one, and that one makes a hell of a mess for everyone.

Re:Insanity in School Districts (1)

Pteraspidomorphi (1651293) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873972)

They're thinking of the children!

Re:Insanity in School Districts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31874052)

Won't somebody think of the children!

No, not like that!

Re:Insanity in School Districts (1)

MrCawfee (13910) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873984)

It's actually fairly simple.

They don't want pissed off parents coming into the office.

Strip searching children: it's okay, they are preventing our children from using dangerous drugs, you know the things we should be preventing.

Canceling Proms: it's okay, we hate the gays, and we don't want our children exposed to the way the world really is because it doesn't fit in our world view.

Spying on children: AHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhHHHHHHHhhhh you are watching my thieving child when they are home!?!

Parents want the school to do the tough things that they aren't willing to do. "i don't feel comfortable searching my kids if i think they are using the marijuana but it's okay because the school will do it for me." I think that 90% of parents are prefectly happy to let school administrators do their parenting for them, and with that power they took it too far with the webcam.

Re:Insanity in School Districts (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874326)

most parents and the slashdot community also seem to think it's perfectly acceptable to bribe children to do their coursework. [slashdot.org] ... i suggested otherwise and was moderated into "karma: terrible" land.

being a parent is just as big a responsibility as being a child which is just as big a responsibility as being an educator... but much like the 3 branches of america's federal government, everyone would rather defer their responsibility and sit back and see what they can get from everyone else first. it's sickening.

side note: i think jail time is in order for many people in this case, but sex offender registry is a reaching.

Re:Insanity in School Districts (2)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874018)

But they can't help a student out of a tree for safety concerns!

At what point did our Education Society lose all common sense?

It seems like those who work in education aren't the smartest.

I think its because we've built this conception of "those who can't do, teach". A society where being a teacher isn't glorious, when it should be. Just make it harder to become a teacher and pay them more... Like a doctor or a Lawyer.

They are dealing with the insanity of parents (5, Interesting)

hellfire (86129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874066)

In the US, Schools are tasked with the impossible job of trying to please parents, who are also voters, and who are also incredibly rude and stupid about what they think is right for their kids. And what happens is that if you DON'T take action, then you get sued anyway!

Drugs? Zero tolerance because some parents and all politicians have zero tolerance, even for aspirin! Someone wrote the rule that way because some crazy person pushed it.

Gays at the prom? Because there is no equal protection under the law for gays, and too many people in american society still view gay relationships as evil. Allowing gays in the right conservative school district will get you just as sued.

Computer survellience? Well for this one there simply is no excuse. Someone obviously didn't do their homework and thought it was a good idea and forgot to check where the legal line crossed. This example is not like the others because the first two are more about social values in those areas and this is clearly a breach in well established law.

And don't forget these people are voted into office, and they are of the people and by the people. They are politicians as well, and if someone wants them to do something or risk being voted out, well this is how it works when the law isn't more clearly spelled out.

Then again, sometimes parents have an attack of sanity, like the Dover, PA case where the old school board tried to implement intelligent design, and they were voted out en masse the next election and the curriculum was scrapped.

Re:Insanity in School Districts (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874096)

What the hell are they thinking?

Thinking? Thinking? They aren't paid to think! They're paid to boss around students and teachers and convince parents that they're doing a good job.

All kidding aside, they're not proactive, they're reactive. Which means that they'll do something and if it somehow results in a lawsuit, they'll ban it. Otherwise, they'll just keep doing it.

Re:Insanity in School Districts (1)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874166)

They think only of themselves and how to remain in power. A school district is nowhere near as lucrative or influential as, say, a Congressional seat, so all they have is their own little kingdom, where they get to set the rules and policies with little or no oversight. In such an environment, humans tend to behave in ways that defy common sense and ethics, similar to how investment banks and hedge funds operated in the early 21st century.

Re:Insanity in School Districts (1)

vell0cet (1055494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874228)

"They have huge lists of things, even common, ordinary actions, that are not allowed to prevent even the slightest chance of getting sued."

It's precisely because the some people working in these school districts are asshats that they have to huge lists of things they can't do. But conversely, these if these asshats don't see something on the list, it means they can do them.

Re:Insanity in School Districts (1)

Eighty7 (1130057) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874250)

It's almost like there's multiple people making independent decisions!

For the love of... (2, Informative)

Skyppey (196275) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873870)

She [citypaper.net] is [philly.com] a woman [philly.com] ! Let it show for the record:

Carol Cafiero, who had previously sought to quash a subpoena ordering her to testify, refused to answer questions pertaining to the district's controversial practice of remotely activating webcams on Apple MacBooks issued to high-school students.

It was like a window into "a little LMSD soap opera," a staffer is quoted as saying in an e-mail to Carol Cafiero, the administrator running the program. "I know, I love it," she is quoted as having replied.

Suspected stolen? (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873880)

Did these laptops have rules stating that they were never permitted to leave the school grounds?

If so, this may improve the school district's legal standing somewhat, since the students were not supposed to have the laptops in that situation.

If the students WERE permitted to take the laptops home (other articles I have read implied they were), then under what criteria were these laptops suspected stolen? Unless a student reported a laptop as lost or stolen, or a student missed some sort of required inventory check, the administrators have no legitimate reason to suspect the laptop was stolen.

Re:Suspected stolen? (2, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874084)

quote>Did these laptops have rules stating that they were never permitted to leave the school grounds?

No. Kids were allowed and encouraged to take the laptops home, but they claim one of the students in question did not pay the insurance fee required, so that gave them permission to use it to spy on him. They refused to answer with regard to the other 41 instances whether those students had reported the laptop stolen or not paid the insurance fee in question.

If the students WERE permitted to take the laptops home (other articles I have read implied they were), then under what criteria were these laptops suspected stolen?

The short answer, they did not suspect they were stolen, that's just a justification they're trying to use after the fact. If they had suspected the laptop of being stolen they would have contacted the parents and told them their kid had stolen a laptop instead of telling them their kid was being expelled for doing drugs at home. They would likewise have contacted the other 41 parents and told them their kids had taken the laptop when they weren't supposed to. It's quite clear at this point (at least to me) that the administrators did not consider the kids privacy at all and used the laptops for entertainment and to spy on kids in the hopes they could catch them doing something "bad".

WTF (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873898)

From TFA:

An attorney for the district declined to comment last night on the Robbinses' latest motion, except to say that a report due in a few weeks will spell out what the district's own investigation has found.

"To the extent there is any evidence of misuse of any images, that also will be disclosed," said the attorney, former federal prosecutor Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. "However, at this late stage of our investigation we are not aware of any such evidence."

Unless he's saying that they weren't taking pictures of students in their private homes after all, what could they possibly have done with the pictures that wouldn't be "misuse"? This guy sounds as crazy as the people running the shool.

Some additional info (2, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873928)

So here's some more additional info [citypaper.net] . The family which sued failed to pay a $55 insurance policy on the laptop. Now, I'm not saying that the surveillance was justified only that the missed payments may have triggered suspicions whether the laptop had been stolen. Of course, once the school determined that the laptop wasn't stolen, all surveillance should have stopped.

Re:Some additional info (1)

Kagato (116051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874154)

It seems that the pictures should have been held in escrow until it was determined to be stolen in the first place. Hindsight is always 20/20.

Taking the 5th is always right! (4, Informative)

phooka.de (302970) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873942)

just watch this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc [youtube.com]
Absolutely must see.

Re:Taking the 5th is always right! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31874094)

Correct, you should always take the 5th. Investigators and prosecutors are not there to help you and if you think you're there to help them you misunderstand the relationship.

Re:Taking the 5th is always right! (2, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874284)

Who the heck modded this off-topic? The summary brought up taking the Fifth, and that film is absolutely 100% apropos.

Basically, if you don't take the Fifth, you're an idiot.

Too bad... (1)

xandercash (1791710) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874076)

...the school district wasn't issuing laptops to supermodels.

The advantage of someoen claiming the 5th amendmen (0)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874102)

Is that it makes their bosses etc. have a lot harder time claimingthat no law was broken and that everything they did was legal.

Re:The advantage of someoen claiming the 5th amend (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874162)

Really? Harder than if they confessed saying "this was school policy"?

I strongly support the right to plead the 5th. But while it's certainly not an admission of guilt, it would only be done by someone who could contribute nothing, or very little, positive to their own defense (since otherwise they'd be telling their side).

The question I haven't seen asked yet (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874260)

Okay, Macbooks... webcam spying...

Does the surveillance software have the ability to take images without turning on the webcam LED? I mean we always assume those are hardware activated and can't be bypassed, I mean only an IDIOT would leave the LEDs controlled by the driver... right?

Also, if indeed there are laptops out there with software controlled LEDs, is anyone keeping a list of the spy-happy laptops out there?

Re:The question I haven't seen asked yet (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874328)

Suposedly some students did complain about the webcam LED coming on at odd times, and were told it was just a glitch in the system, nothing to worry about. This was a claim by another student at the school, so take it with a grain of salt. Yes, I certainly hope one cannot energize the CCD without also energizing the LED, but this would have been just a flash of less than a second every 15 minutes. Remember, the software was designed not to make thieves suspicious.

Sample image photoshopped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31874282)

The image of the guy sleeping has a JPEG APP12 tag with text "Ducky" and "Adobe". which indicates to me that it was probably photoshopped (probably only to crop it, but who knows?). I think Ducky.tif is a sample image provided by Adobe.
See for yourself: "od -c *webcam*.jpg|head"

Intent of the pictures? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 4 years ago | (#31874344)

If the intent is to get a picture of somebody that is suspected to have stolen the lap top, that's completely different from just taking pictures of people who are lawfully using laptop, but having an image taken of them without their knowledge. The later is spying, the first part is just trying to get stolen property back.

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