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Spy school vice principal slams "abhorrent" allegations

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By Stuart Turton

Posted on 25 Feb 2010 at 09:58

The Harriton High School vice principal at the centre of the webcam spying row has hit back at the "offensive, abhorrent and outrageous" allegations.

Lynn Matsko allegedly called 15-year-old Blake Robbins into her office and disciplined him for "improper behaviour" using footage taken through his laptop webcam as evidence.

The school is now being sued by Robbins' family, and reading a prepared statement, Matsko gave an emotional response to the allegations.

"At no point in time did I have the ability to access any webcam through security-tracking software," said Matsko. "At no time I have ever monitored a student through a laptop webcam, nor have I ever authorised the monitoring of a student through a security-tracking webcam – either at school, or in the home, and I never would."

"I find the allegations, and implications, that I would ever engage in such conduct offensive, abhorrent and outrageous."

Matsko also offered a defence of her meeting with Robbins, though stopped short of offering specific details of its purpose, claiming she had been advised to keep the facts to herself by counsel.

"I have never disciplined a student for conduct he or she engaged in outside of school property that is not in connection with school or school-related event. That is not and have never been and never should be my role," Matsko said.

The family responds

Shortly after Matsko issued her statement, the family responded with one of its own. "Nothing in Ms Matsko's statement is inconsistent with what we stated in our complaint," said Blake Robbins (PDF).

"Ms Matsko does not deny that she saw a webcam picture and screenshot of Blake in his home; she only denies that she is the one who activated the webcam."

The family also claimed that Matsko was not intended to become the centrepiece of the case. "This case is about the decision by the School Board of Lower Merion School District to place software in students’ computers, computers they knew were going to be taken home, which software could be remotely activated to take snapshots of whatever may be on the students screens and a picture of whatever may be in front of the camera."

"We need to learn to what extent the 'peeping tom' technology was used by the School District or any employee of the school district," Robbins concluded.

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User comments

Interesting case, but as usually blown way out of proportion. What was the kid guilty of anyway?

The question I want answering is this "How do we monitor kids behavior when our backs are turned or when we're out of the room, especially repeat offenders"? If someone can give me a practical answer to this I'll side with the parents.

By anthonysjones on 25 Feb 2010


The vice principal's statement is totally missleading. She is denying that she took the pictures or activated the software, but which is more or less correct. It's also not what she's being accussed of.

She didn't take the pictures, somebody else took them on her watch, and then passed them on to her as part of school procedure. Which is the case that's being put forward here. She allowes a spy camera to be put in a child's bedroom, and then gave somebody else the key to turn it on, and they did. She's in trouble not because she did it, but because she was in charge when it happened.

There are still a lot of questions to be answered, but from what I gather "somebody" was spying on the kid and say them poping some pills. They turned out to be candy, but it was reported to the vice principal that it was drugs.

This doesn't look like the case of a repeat offender bing placed under survalance becuse they were suspected of somebody, it appears to be a case of "somebody" surfing the camera for fun and seeing something, then taking a picture.

Personally, I'm rather disturbed by this. Suppose that the kid was your daughter, and she was getting dressed? If it were me, I'd have been livid. I'd have thrown punches first and asked questions second.

"How do we monitor kids behavior when our backs are turned or when we're out of the room, especially repeat offenders"

The big question is why would we need to monitor them? Whatever happened to raising your kids right, then trusting them? Or putting a net nany on their computer to record the websites that they go to? NOT and I repeat NOT putting a spy camera in their bedroom and then randomly surfing it.

The big problem here is that there were supposed to be safeguards in place, but they failed because an unknown person was able to surf them when they weren't supposed to, and that parents were not informed that the cameras could be remotely activated. Some of them would have probably refused the laptop if they'd known.

If my daughter had one of those, I'd make sure that she closed the lid when she got changed, or that she covered up the camera when she wasn't using it.

It's not as if the kid was accussed of steaking the laptop, which is what the cameras are supposed to protect against. They weren't supposed to be activated unless the laptop was being abussed, and there has been no suggestion that this was the case.

By Perfectblue97 on 25 Feb 2010

"What was the kid guilty of anyway?"

Probably having a quick J. Arthur.

By Lacrobat on 25 Feb 2010


Jumping to conclusions, and taking the word of the litigants verbatim.

You seem to fit the profile of a Daily Mail reader with your paranoia and "will somebody please think of the children" attitude.

Why not wait until details other than the filed court papers are known.

Or we could just condemn people outright before we have any depth of knowledge of the story and events that allegedly took place. Vigilanteeism is so much more exciting than common sense.

By Phoomeister on 26 Feb 2010

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