By Julie Telles, age 16
Foothill High School Student

Hacking into a school's computer system qualifies as tampering with federal property.

Hacking into a school’s computer system qualifies as tampering with federal property.

Before winter break, Foothill High received some disturbing news. A few of its students had hacked into teachers’ computers using a keystroke logger, and changed their grades. A keystroke logger is a small discrete device that attaches in between the keyboard and the back USB that tracks every keystroke from the keyboard, giving the students access to the teachers passwords. The students thought they were going to get away with it, because the teachers had no clue that it had happened.

Until, that is, Mrs. Leeann Rupley noticed her grades were being changed when she wasn’t changing them. “School loop sends us notifications whenever a student’s grade starts going up or going down.”

She informed the office immediately, and the administration sent out an email to tell all teachers to check their computers to see if there was a keystroke logger attached to them. All teachers were asked to change their passwords to anything that they themselves had accessed on their computers, even bank accounts.

Multiple students have admitted to being involved, and a few students received citations from the police department.

The fact surprised a number of students. It seemed that those involved were oblivious to the consequences of their actions. It doesn’t matter what school you go to, academic dishonesty is serious, even more so in college than high school. The consequences vary from suspension, a schedule change, expulsion, and if cheating was gone about a certain way, such as tampering with school property, it can be considered a federal crime and you can be arrested.

The students that were in involved not only affected themselves, but caused teachers to change the way they viewed students.

“It affected me on quite a level. I usually trust students’ judgments. I felt betrayed that the kids would do that.  It makes me wonder about just how safe everything is,” says Mrs. Rosemary Davis, one of the teachers whose grades were changed.

Note: It is an ongoing investigation, and only a limited amount of information was given.