“Girls Gone Wild: the High School Years”

February 23, 2010

By now, you’ve heard the story about the laptop computers distributed by the Lower Merion Pennsylvania school district.

Here’s the official version:

In order to keep Lower Merion high school students “connected” with school resources at all times, over 2000 students were issued MacBook computers. These are laptops they could take with them, presumably to do research, write papers, and submit homework.

What Merion officials neglected to tell students was that certain school officials could remotely turn on the built-in cameras on the laptops. This feature allegedly was employed to identify the users of stolen computers.

Last week, 16-year-old Blake Robbins was confronted by an assistant principal at Harriton High School who accused him of selling drugs and taking pills. The assistant principal  said he had webcam images to prove it.

Lower Merion school officials claim they had remotely activated the laptop cameras only 42 times in 14 months, recovering 18 missing MacBooks.

End of official version.

The aggregate bullshit score for this story comes in at a whopping .92, a mark usually achieved only by politicians actively campaigning.

  1. Why was the camera on Robbins’ computer activated? The computer was not reported stolen.
  2. Lower Merion Home Ec teacher Ella MacKenzie believes in doing surveillance the old fashioned way

    Lower Merion school superintendent Christopher McGinley said only two people in the “technology department” had access to the camera activation feature. So how did the assistant principal gain access to the incriminating pictures of Robbins?

  3. What was Robbins really doing? He claims he was eating candy or gum. What did the school officials see on the video that caused them to confront Robbins, particularly when they had to realize that the confrontation would reveal the secret of the spy cameras?
  4. The district claims the cameras were turned on 42 times. If the only people with access to the camera control feature were the techies in the basement, you can bet they were smart enough to erase the records of “unofficial” camera activations. Some of those cameras were probably on (and recording) 24/7.
  5. "See Kevin, I told you they were real. Jesus Christ! How does she do that?!!"

    Let’s see. Two computer geeks in some school basement, watching over the IT equipment. They probably live in their parents’ basements on Coke, potato chips, and pizza. Neither has had a date in the past four years. Hmmm. 2000 students, half of whom are female. (We’ll assume our geeks aren’t gay). Of these 1000 females, at least 100 would probably be rated as ‘hot.’ Laptops sitting open in their bedrooms, cameras (and sound) on. You get the picture. I’ll bet Rodney and Kevin have recorded enough good material for a new porn series Girls Gone Wild: the High School Years.

  6. Jail time for these guys? I’m betting on it. Too bad the lid was blown off. Another 6 months and they could have taken the raw footage to Thailand and lived like royalty on, well, the royalties.
  7. Blake’s sister, Paige Robbins, said “I can say that on behalf of all of my girlfriends at Harriton, we were very scared, because we don’t check to see if the lid is closed when we’re changing. We take them in the bathroom when we’re in the shower to listen to music. So, we’re all petrified. We don’t know who’s on the other end watching us do whatever.” God, I hope Rodney and Kevin had the good sense to ship copies of those videos overseas.
  8. Naturally a lawsuit has been filed. The legal papers say: “As the laptops were routinely used by students and family members at home, it is believed that many of the images captured and intercepted may consist of images of minors and their parents or friends in compromising or embarrassing positions, including in various stages of dress or undress.” Ya think?
  9. Do they still teach the Constitution in high school civics classes? Or, more to the point, has anyone officially connected with the Lower Merion school district ever read the Constitution. Nah, I didn’t think so either.

Lower Merion staff meets to celebrate success of "Laptop in Every Lap" program