High School Hacker Alters Grades for College Applications

The unauthorized access changed grades that affected the class ranks for seniors, an important part of the college admissions process.

by T. Keung Hui, The News & Observer / November 6, 2015

(TNS) — Cary Police are investigating after a hacker broke into the computer system for one of Wake County’s top high schools, changing the grades and class rank for seniors during their busy college application season.

In a letter posted on the school’s website Thursday, Panther Creek High School Principal Camille Hedrick told families that the school recently discovered an unauthorized access into the school’s information system. She said a few students’ grades were changed, which altered the class ranks that are an important part of the college admissions process.

Hedrick said the school has notified the parents of students whose grades were changed. She also said officials are notifying the universities and colleges of all students who sent or uploaded their transcripts during the past month, when the hack altered the class ranks.

“We want to assure you that we take our academic integrity as seriously as you do,” Hedrick said in the letter.

Few details about how the hack occurred were released Thursday.

Lisa Luten, a Wake schools spokeswoman, said the grade and class rank changes were discovered by Panther Creek staff during a routine review. She said Panther Creek notified the school system’s Information Technology Department.

Cary Police Captain Randall Rhyne said police were contacted about a week ago. He declined to say whether police had any leads because it’s an active criminal investigation.

News about the grade changes was released during North Carolina College Application Week.

We don’t have any reason to believe that grades were tampered with at any other high school. Nor are we concerned that grades are inaccurate.

Crystal Reardon, Wake’s director of counseling, said that school counselors routinely check transcripts during the school year. She said that if a significant change in class rank is discovered that further review takes place.

“We don’t have any reason to believe that grades were tampered with at any other high school,” Reardon said. “Nor are we concerned that grades are inaccurate.”

But Reardon said that if any students or parents feel the grades are inaccurate they should contact their school. A similar message was given Thursday at Panther Creek, where Hedrick said concerned parents can contact their senior’s guidance counselor.

In the meantime at Panther Creek, Hedrick said the school is working to correct the class ranking for the senior class. Once the class ranking is corrected, Hedrick said, an unofficial copy of all seniors’ transcripts will be sent to their home addresses.

Hedrick also said that updated and corrected transcripts will be sent to the universities and colleges of all students who submitted transcripts during the time period when the class rank was inaccurate.

©2015 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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