Here's a shocker: A new report says the school district at the center of a Web cam spying lawsuit did not have official guidelines or a set protocol on using the tracking software installed in laptops that were issued to students.
According to eWEEK, the report from the law firm of Ballard Spahr indicates that the absence of official policy left room for "overzealous and questionable" use of the software by 15 staff members, which resulted in the collection of "30,564 web cam photographs and 27,428 screenshots" on IT department servers.
On the flip side, the report also says there is nothing to indicate that school or district administrators participated in spying on students. Specifically:
There is no evidence that members of [the] board or top-level district administrators (including the superintendent, assistant superintendent, and the principals and assistant principals) knew how [the tracking software] worked.
I have a hard time believing that none of the administrators knew how the software worked, but I'll go with it. However, I can't understand why the district needed a separate investigation - for which it paid a pretty penny, I'm sure - and a 72-page report before it could reach the conclusion that guidelines for proper use of the software were necessary.
If the district had taken the time to put such guidelines into place, educated the staff about them and then enforced them appropriately from the time the first laptop was issued to the first student, it could have saved the expense and embarrassment of the lawsuit.
No matter how bad the upfront costs look at first, proactive risk management is always less expensive than cleaning up the mess after the fact.