610G settles webcam case

"Webcamgate," the Lower Merion School District soap opera about two teens and two school-issued laptops that spied on them, was never supposed to be about money.

But that's exactly what brought the whole screwy saga to a close yesterday - a boatload of money.

The district's Board of School Directors voted unanimously to pay $610,000 to settle lawsuits filed by the families of Harriton High sophomore Blake Robbins and Lower Merion High graduate Jalil Hasan, both of whom were unknowingly photographed scores of times at home by webcams on Apple MacBooks.

"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," board president David Ebby wrote in a statement posted on the district's website.

Ebby said $175,000 was placed in a trust for Robbins, whose family ignited the controversy when it filed an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against the district in February, claiming the laptop - powered by "TheftTrack" software - had captured tens of thousands of images of the teen.

Hasan, whose family filed suit in July, claiming that a MacBook had captured hundreds of photos of him, received $10,000. The bill for attorney Mark Haltzman, who represented both families, was $425,000, Ebby said.

He noted that investigations launched by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI and the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office cleared the district and its employees of any wrongdoing.