Berkeley HS students caught up in hacking scandal

April 19, 2012 1:40:35 AM PDT
Students at Berkeley High School are involved in a new kind of scam involving hacking into school computers. But this wasn't about changing grades it was about playing high-tech hooky.

So far, 32 students have been suspended, two have been expelled and many more may be facing consequences.

Many students at Berkeley High School say they heard classmates talk about clearing absences and tardies for themselves or for a friend, even charging money for it.

"I heard someone made an administrator account or something and they were selling the passwords," one student said.

Administrators first noticed the discrepancies in December.

"Absences that were initially logged into our student database by teachers had been corrected, they had been altered," Berkeley High School Principal Pasquale Scuderi said.

Five administrators spent months chasing paper and cyber-trails before confronting students just before spring break. The changes to attendance records were made from computers on campus as well as from home. One student said kids accessed records from the math computer lab during class time.

It's the same cheating issue schools have always dealt with, but with a high tech twist.

"That makes it seem a little atypical compared to the guy who stole the final in the past, but it's really the same ethical dilemma we need to correct and address with the kids who are involved," Scuderi said.

There are more than 50 students involved. One student speculated that it had to do with preventing grades being lowered due to excessive absences. Others wanted to keep parents from finding out they had skipped class. And one student said athletes were involved because they wanted to maintain their eligibility to play.

The school says they've now changed passwords and closed the loopholes in their system.

The principal says he hopes the incident will become a teachable moment.


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