Staff put on leave in Merion 'spy cam' case

The suspension on leave of the technical staff is the latest twist in a rapidly unfolding case in which the Pennsylvania school district has admitted that it used software designed to take web cam pictures of students in their homes without their knowledge.

"Placing [the two employees] on administrative leave with pay is not a reflection of any wrongdoing on their part," said the Lower Merion School District in a statement. "It is a standard, prudent step in an investigation such as this one and it occurred in conjunction with the start of the review process nearly two weeks ago."

According to reporters at Fox News that have been tracking the story on the ground, the Lower Merion School District has not issued any information about the length of the leave period imposed on staff.

Charles Mandracchia, attorney for one of the IT staff involved, emphasized that they were simply carrying out district policy.

"It was their duty to turn on the camera, but they would only do that if they received a request from the two high school buildings. They had no contact with the students. Someone from the high school would contact IT," he said.

"They were directed in the policies and procedures of the district based on it being lost and stolen. It surely doesn't violate the wiretap act because there was no audio involved."

Using the software, said to have cost $141 000 to be installed on the district's computers, a laptop computer would take a picture every 15 minutes when instructed to do so by IT staff.

"They were never accused of exceeding their authority. They have not even been accused of doing anything wrong or improper," Mandracchia said in an interview on Fox News. 

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