Philadelphia laptop spying school to cough up $610,000

The Philadelphia school accused of using laptops to spy on its students has settled with a payment of $610,000 to cover legal fees and damages.

The Lower Merion School District got into trouble after a student was brought up to the principal on supposedly taking drugs, which later turned out to be sweets. Photos of the teenager were supplied as evidence, raising questions about exactly where they came from. The school was forced to admit spying on this student and several others using the webcams on school-owned laptops.

The case came to a close last night. The large payout will see two students cashing $185,000 cheques each. 15-year-old Blake Robbins, who brought awareness to the situation, will have $175,000 placed in a trust. Another student will receive $10,000.

Most of the money will go to paying legal fees which have amounted to a massive $425,000.

Robbins’ lawyer already received $260,000 at the end of August after a court ruling said he deserved the money for securing an injunction against the school. A further $1.2 million of litigation fees have already been paid by Graphic Arts, the school’s insurance carrier.

“We believe this settlement enables us to move forward in a way that is most sensitive to our students, taxpayers and the entire school district community,” said David Ebby, President of the school Board. “The agreement is comprehensive, and effectively resolves all components of the laptop litigation, including the Robbins and Hasan cases and the Graphic Arts insurance case.”