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
Sheriff's Office investigators reviewed video surveillance and forensic
computer examinations to back up the witnesses' statements, according to
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
Staff Writer Jean-Paul Renaud contributed to this report.
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