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Assistant principal, daughter accused of hacking student records to steal homecoming queen election

The assistant principal of a Florida elementary school was arrested along with her teenage daughter after authorities said they hacked a high school’s homecoming election.

Laura Rose Carroll, who works at Bellview Elementary School in Pensacola, and her 17-year-old daughter are accused of using Carroll’s credentials to gain access to student records on the Escambia County district’s FOCUS system.

Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) began investigating in November when the school district reported that there had been “unauthorized access into hundreds of student accounts,” the state agency said Monday in a press release.

The mother and daughter allegedly used the system to cast hundreds of votes in homecoming election at the Tate High School, where the teen was a student.

According to an affidavit obtained by local station WKMG-TV, the district used a third-party vendor called Election Runner so students could vote for homecoming king and queen. Carroll’s daughter was crowned homecoming queen in October, according to North Escambia, a local newspaper.

FDLE said that hundreds of homecoming votes were flagged as fraudulent. Agents learned votes came from the same IP address and uncovered evidence “of unauthorized access to FOCUS linked to Carroll’s cellphone as well as computers associated with their residence.”

In total, the mother and daughter are accused of casting 246 fake votes.

Multiple students reportedly told agents that the teen used her mother’s FOCUS account to rig the election, according to the press release.

One student told authorities that Carroll’s daughter also used the account to look up private information on her peers, WKMG reported.

“She looks up all of our group of friends’ grades and makes comments about how she can find out our test scores all the time,” the student told investigators.

“She did not make it seem like logging in was a big deal and was very comfortable with doing so,” another said.

Carroll and her daughter accessed 372 high school records — a majority of those belonging to Tate students — beginning in August 2019, according to the FDLE.

Tate High School, Bellview Elementary School, and the Escambia County School District did not immediately return a request for comment on Tuesday.

Carroll’s daughter was expelled from the high school, according to WKMG.

The two were arrested on Monday on several charges, including unauthorized use of computers, unlawful use of a two-way communications device, and criminal use of personally identifiable information.

Carroll was booked into the Escambia County Jail on an $8,500 bond, but online jail records show she has been released. It’s not clear if she has obtained an attorney. Her daughter was taken to the Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

Source:

www.nbcnews.com

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