Class president at Cooper City High charged with changing grades of 19 students

Class president at Cooper City High charged with changing grades of 19 students
Class president at Cooper City High charged with changing grades of 19 students,0,5928437.story?coll=sfla-news-broward 

By Douane D. James
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
December 13 2006
Cooper City High School's senior class president was arrested Tuesday 
and charged in a grade-tampering scandal that has rocked the campus.

Ryan C. Shrouder, 18, of Cooper City, was taken to jail from school and 
charged with two counts of computer crime with intent to defraud, a 
second-degree felony, according to a Broward Sheriff's Office report. He 
was released from jail on bail, has been suspended from school and will 
be recommended for expulsion, said Joe Melita, head of the Broward 
County School District's investigative unit.

Shrouder serves as the alternate student advisor to the Broward School 
Board. He often sits in on board meetings and was issued a school 
district laptop computer. Sheriff's Office investigators say Shrouder 
took advantage of that access and used an employee password to access 
the district's network and change the grades of 19 students. It's 
unclear whether authorities think he changed his own grades.

Shrouder was considered the main suspect, but other students could be 
punished for being involved, Melita said.

Shrouder's attorney said his client will plead not guilty and that he is 
being unfairly singled out.

"To charge a kid with a computer crime is absurd," said Fort Lauderdale 
attorney Fred Haddad. "There's plenty of ways to handle this besides 
charging a felony."

Shrouder had been elected leader of his sophomore, junior and senior 
classes at Cooper City High and recently was voted "most likely to be 
president" of the United States.

Rumors of the arrest spread quickly at the school Tuesday. 
Administrators delayed the second-period bell so students would remain 
in class while deputies took Shrouder from the school.

Kara Olesky, student government president at Cooper City High, said 
Shrouder was well liked and appeared to be "headed in a positive 

"We were shocked," she said. "We would never have thought anyone would 
attempt something like that."

The report filed by the Sheriff's Office detailed the alleged 
grade-tampering as follows:

On Nov. 2, an assistant principal told authorities that the school had 
begun investigating unauthorized grade changes. Course grades from 
previous years for 19 students, mostly seniors, had been altered.

Cooper City High's bookkeeper told investigators that in the week before 
the grades were changed she witnessed Shrouder in the office of the 
computer technology specialist looking for a "sign-on" password to the 
district network. The technology specialist had left his passwords on a 
notepad in his desk, according to the report.

Investigators later determined that the employee's sign-on account was 
the same one used to access the grades program and modify the marks.

A Cooper City High student witness told authorities that on Oct. 30 he 
saw Shrouder use his laptop to access the computer application that 
manages pupil grades. Another student said Shrouder approached her at a 
party the next day and said he altered her grades, along with those of 
other students.

Sheriff's Office investigators reviewed video surveillance and forensic 
computer examinations to back up the witnesses' statements, according to 
the report.

Advisors to the School Board are given laptops that have access to the 
district network for e-mail purposes, but they don't have the security 
clearance to log into the application that manages grades, officials 

Last year, a West Boca Raton High student used employee passwords to 
hack into the Palm Beach County district network and change transcripts 
for students at four high schools. He was ordered to pay restitution and 
complete a yearlong program to avoid being prosecuted for felony 
computer fraud.

Staff Writer Jean-Paul Renaud contributed to this report.

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