'Spygate' teenager demands webcam pix from Pa. school

Assistant principal, high school sophomore trade statements about laptop surveillance

The suburban Philadelphia teenager who has accused his high school of spying on him in his home using the camera in his school-issued laptop called on school district officials to hand over copies of all photographs snapped by students' MacBooks.

"Our counsel has requested immediate access to all webcam pictures and screenshots to determine whether the school district's representation to the number of times it was used, and the purposes for which it was used, is accurate," said Blake Robbins late Wednesday. Robbins read a prepared statement in front of reporters and television cameras outside his Penn Valley, Pa. home.

Last week, Robbins' parents, Michael and Holly Robbins, sued Lower Merion School District of Ardmore, Pa., saying that the district had spied on students and students' families using the iSight webcams in the MacBook laptops issued to approximately 2,300 high school students.

The Robbins' complaint said 16-year-old Blake Robbins had been accused by a Harriton High School assistant principal of selling drugs and popping pills, and shown a photograph taken by his laptop as evidence. Robbins told the school administrator the photograph showed him eating candy.

Before a federal judge issued a gag order Monday preventing school officials from discussing the case with parents or students without prior authorization, the district had acknowledged that cameras had been remotely activated by technology personnel 42 times so far this school year. The cameras were switched on only as part of efforts to recover lost or stolen machines, said Christopher McGinley, superintendent of Lower Merion.

The Robbins family has denied that they reported Blake's laptop as lost or stolen.

In his statement, Robbins said that the district has refused to hand over copies of the photographs and screenshots taken by students' MacBooks, and urged other students and their parents to press officials to do so, if only to quicken the pace of the lawsuit to save the district money.

Robbins also addressed comments made earlier that day by Lindy Matsko, the Harriton High School assistant vice principal that he said accused him of drug dealing.

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