A high school in Alabama is in a tough spot after grades were hacked, leaving the academic standing of students in question.
In what appears to be a computer hack, grades were changed, forcing the school to investigate and leaving the status of the top ten students and valedictorian up in the air.
“My son called…and basically told me that there was an investigation going on with the top ten list and [that] someone has hacked into the grades and been changing grades since 2016,” Shannon Odom told WKRG in Alabama. Odom's son is a student at W.S. Neal High School in East Brewton, AL.
The school superintendent confirmed to Fox News that changes had been made. “W. S. Neal High school administrators reported discrepancies where grades on report cards didn't match their transcripts,” John J. Knott, Superintendent of Education, Escambia County Schools in Brewton, told Fox News in an email.
“The discrepancies were discovered when the school was finalizing the Top 10 students. We began to address the discrepancies and have determined that some changes were made,” he added.
The findings were reported to the Alabama State Department of Education and law enforcement began investigating the matter, Knott said. He added that he has also “brought in additional resources that could aide in this investigation,” emphasizing the seriousness of the breach.
The hack has generated chatter on social media. Facebook postings have ranged from rage to advice on how to pinpoint when the computer system was hacked.
Superintendent Knott said that it is the school’s goal to complete the investigation and “hold all that may be involved accountable," correct the records, and ultimately to release the list of the top 10 students, including the valedictorian and salutatorian, by graduation, scheduled for May 22.
Since it is an ongoing investigation, Knott said he could not provide additional details at this time.
This sort of thing has happened before, according to BleepingComputer, a site that covers internet security.
In December 2017, a high school student in Tenafly, NJ. got access to the IT systems at Tenafly High School in New Jersey and changed the grades to improve his GPA. The student then “sent out college applications immediately after,” BleepingComputer reported.
In October, a University of Kansas engineering student hacked into a professor’s computer and changed his grades favorably.
In that case the student used a keystroke logger, which logs keystrokes and allows the hacker to steal passwords, credit card numbers, and pretty much any highly sensitive data that a person keys into their computer.