(NEW YORK) -- A suburban Philadelphia school district has settled lawsuits with students over claims the district violated the students' privacy with its webcam surveillance policy. The students had filed suit against the Lower Merion School District, claiming the district used webcams in their school-issued laptops to spy on them without their knowledge. The district denies that, saying its policy was meant to find missing or stolen laptops. A federal investigation found no criminal wrongdoing.
In addition to the $610,000 to be paid out to settle the claims, the district has changed its policy. In the future, district officials will not access files and documents stored in students' laptops unless it has reasonable suspicion the student may be violating district policies. If a student believes a laptop has been lost or stolen, the student and parents must give written permission before tracking technology can be activated.
In a statement issued Monday night, Lower Merion School Board President David Ebby said while the district would have liked to tell its story in court, the settlement allows the schools to move forward in a way that is sensitive to students and taxpayers.
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