School Board Votes to Recommend Settling Another 'Webcam' Suit
The district would pay out $10,000.
Monday night, at a regular meeting of the Lower Merion School District Board of School Directors, the board voted unanimously to recommend the district pay an unnamed student $10,000 to settle another laptop-camera lawsuit.
Near the conclusion of the meeting, Superintendent Christopher McGinley read from a letter asking the board to vote for the following:
Approval of a settlement agreement to resolve the pending dispute between and among the school district, a minor student and the student's parents, and the school district's insurance carrier. The student intended to assert claims against the district alleging that it improperly remotely activated and captured photographs from a webcam to a laptop the district issued to the student. There is no evidence anyone from the district ever saw these photographs and while maintaining its innocence of liability, the district considers it desirable to settle this matter to eliminate the substantial burden, expense, inconvenience, and distraction of litigation. The district's portion of the settlement is $10,000.
The district is currently contesting another webcam lawsuit from former student Joshua Levin, and Monday's vote comes nearly a year after the district settled with student plaintiffs Blake Robbins and Jalil Hassan.
In other district business, the board voted to approve the hire of 16 new employees and the re-hire of 16 more as well as 11 resignations and a pair of retirements. After the vote, board member Jerold Novick took a moment to commend the most senior of the retirees, Harriton ESL teacher Barbara Almstead, for her 37 years of service.
The board also voted to approve three overnight field trips for the upcoming school year—Clearwater, Florida for the Harriton Boys Lacrosse team; Orlando for the Harriton Music Department; and Newark for a pair of Bala Cynwyd Middle School sports teams; alongwith 22 additional expenses for non-district educational services, a lease renewal for Montgomery Early Learning Centers, and a handful of amendments to standing contracting agreements, the most significant of which is the allocation of an additional $39,783 to pave a Welsh Valley Middle School parking lot.
The board also received a Lower Merion High School construction update—"We're almost there," assured Pat Guinnane—as well as an update on the district's five-year strategic plan. The presentation of this year's plan will be held on Sept. 12 and the board will vote on it Sept. 19.