No word after lawyers meet in Lower Merion webcam case

Posted: July 30, 2010

Lawyers for the Lower Merion School District and the first student to sue over its use of webcams to track laptops met Thursday with a federal judge but would not say if they were any closer to resolving their dispute.

Henry E. Hockeimer Jr., the attorney for the district, and Mark Haltzman, representing Harriton High School junior Blake Robbins, declined to comment as they left Senior District Judge Jan E. DuBois' chambers in Philadelphia.

The 75-minute, closed-door meeting followed a flurry of filings from both sides that signaled new hurdles in the five-month-old case. Robbins and his parents contend the monitoring invaded their privacy.

In the last two weeks, the district and a group of Lower Merion parents have filed separate motions opposing Haltzman's request to certify the case as a class action.

They argued the step was legally flawed and unnecessarily complicated the case because Lower Merion already had taken steps to ban unauthorized monitoring of student laptops.

The parents also accused the Robbinses' lawyer of overly aggressive tactics and false accusations that they say have "besmirched" the district's reputation. And they said Robbins' allegations were not representative of most Lower Merion students.

Four days later, Haltzman filed a nearly identical civil-rights lawsuit on behalf of another Lower Merion student.

Jalil Hasan, who graduated from Lower Merion High School in June, says in his complaint that he learned on July 8 that the webcam on his school-issued laptop had run for nearly two months last school year.

The district did not directly respond to the new assertions, except to say litigation "is not the way to proceed."


Contact staff writer John P. Martin at 610-313-8120 or jmartin@phillynews.com.

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