Workers Put On Leave In Webcam Spying Case

on paid administrative leave The Philadelphia Inquirer

The suspensions followed news that a 15-year-old student and his parents filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the school district invaded his privacy by remotely activating a Webcam and photographed the student in his home.

All Harriton High School students used the Apple MacBooks with built-in Webcams that are designed to capture images if the laptops are lost or stolen. The school district says it only activates the Webcams without students' knowledge for security purposes.

School officials have acknowledged remotely activating the Webcams 42 times over the past 14 months in order to find missing laptops, but they deny that any students were spied on.

After the lawsuit was filed, district officials said they had disabled the remote surveillance system.

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"The district generally does not comment on personnel matters, but we feel compelled to do so in the interest of two longtime staff members," spokesman Doug Young said, according to "Placing them on administrative leave with pay is not a reflection of any wrongdoing on their part. It is a standard, prudent step in an investigation such as this one and it occurred in conjunction with the start of the review process nearly two weeks ago."

Lawyers for the two school employees placed on leave said the use of the software was no secret. At least twice, the school district gave pictures and other information to police in the school district to help them track stolen notebooks, the lawyers said.