Company dropped for putting students’ photos on web

A Pennsylvania school board has decided not to rehire a photography company after it briefly published students’ photos on the internet so parents could select and order them there.

The Seneca Valley school system, about 25 miles north of Pittsburgh, hired Strem-Lauren Studios of Pittsburgh June 5 to replace Billings Photography of suburban Pittsburgh. A vote to retain Billings as the school district’s photographer failed 5-4. School board members said they also were angry that Billings had made the school logo available on its web site.

Company representatives told school officials that the photographs were available only for two days before they were removed.

High school Principal Matt McKinley argued for keeping Billings, saying it had made a simple administrative mistake. Other school officials said Billings was much closer to the Butler County district than the company that replaced it.

But board member Dean Berkebile, who made the internet photos an issue last year, said a student who had put the images online would have been expelled. Rehiring Billings would have meant the school system had different standards for contractors and students, Berkebile said.

Jim Fitzgerald, a company spokesman in Warrendale, did not return a telephone call about the decision.

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