By Ramon Coronado
Bee Staff Writer
August 13, 2005
One of three Sheldon High School students accused of hacking into
their school computer to change grades pleaded guilty Friday in
Sacramento Juvenile Court.
"You want good grades, you earn them. To change grades is cheating,"
said Juvenile Court Referee Daniel Horton, who is acting as a judge.
The 16-year-old admitted guilt to two of five charges. Originally
filed as felonies, they had been reduced to misdemeanors. The
remaining charges were dismissed.
The boy must perform 100 hours of community service, and he and his
parents are liable for a portion to be determined later of the $67,000
in damages to the school district.
The same deal was struck Wednesday for the other two Sheldon High
students, ages 15 and 17. Names of the boys are not being disclosed
because they are minors.
A hearing is set for Oct. 11 when a judge will decide how much each
boy and their families will pay.
"The debt can follow the minors for years and it can hinder their
ability to secure credit for major purchases such as cars and homes,"
said Deputy District Attorney Sue Wilson.
The Elk Grove Unified School District is seeking the restitution
amount claiming that is how much it had to pay as a result of the
student hacking into their computers.
The investigation and additional security measures account for some of
the district's costs. But most of the money spent went into mailing
notices to 70,0000 current and former students and 10 teachers whose
personal information was compromised by the hacking.
The three students were accused of breaking into the school computer
using a keystroke recording device, software and other computer
equipment to change their grades to A's. In multiple breaches, which
occurred between May and October of last year, home addresses and
Social Security numbers were compromised, officials claimed.
A state identity theft law required the district to make the
notification to those affected.
The Sheldon students were among seven high school students in the area
who in unrelated incidents have been accused of hacking into school
computers to change grades.
Eight felony computer theft charges are still pending against a Laguna
Creek High School senior who in February was accused of using hacking
software to break into the school computer system. More than 6,000
district employees had personal information compromised, school
And an investigation into possible felony charges against another
Laguna Creek senior is ongoing, Wilson said. The student is accused of
the unauthorized use of a school employee's password to change the
grades of more than 36 students, including his own.
That student was initially expelled and banned from attending
graduation. He was later given his diploma after officials determined
he had earned enough credits.
Two 17-year-old Natomas Unified School District high school students
admitted earlier this year to misdemeanor computer theft charges and
were also sentenced to perform 100 hours of community service.
Horton said Friday that some might think that 100 hours of community
service is a "slap on the wrist."
"I have trouble with this case. You didn't hurt somebody, but this is
somewhat sophisticated (crime)," Horton told the 16-year-old.
Sept 16-18th, 2005
San Diego, California