Four students were in trouble last week after the Monroe School District, acting on a tip, discovered that they’d found a way to hack in to the district computer system to try to change their grades in a science class.
Two of the students had gotten access to a teacher’s computer long enough to download a keystroke capture program, a not-uncommon kind of application that secretly records everything typed on a computer’s keyboard.
Sometimes such programs are used by employers to monitor the work habits of employees, and by parents anxious to see what their kids are doing online.
They are certainly used to commit a fair amount of mischief too, with abusive domestic partners using them to spy on their significant others and by identity thieves after credit card numbers.
The two students trying to change their grades used the keystroke capture program to secretly record the password the teacher used to log in to the grade book. They also tried to change the grades of two other students, who knew about it, according to news accounts.
The Monroe Police Department’s school resource officer joined the school district in investigating the tip, and the students were caught.
Appropriate discipline was meted out, said Rosemary O’Neil, spokesperson for the Monroe School District.
The students were afraid of failing science, she said.
“Everything I heard when asking about this situation was that they were frightened to fail,” she said.
The school district tries to have lots of resources for students who are in trouble academically, she noted.
“I thinking it’s concerning that the young people felt that they had no options,” she said. “Their choices were not good and they have been held accountable for their actions. I understand that they have learned from it.”
Unfortunately, she added, the incident will lead to less access to teacher’s computers for students going forward.
“The young people often would borrow a teacher’s computer to print something and unfortunately that won’t be the case anymore,” she said.
More computers will be available to students starting next year, though, she said, due to the passage of a tech levy.