Class president at Cooper City High charged with changing grades of 19
By Douane D. James
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Cooper City High School's senior class president was arrested Tuesday
and charged in a grade-tampering scandal that has rocked the campus.
Ryan C. Shrouder, 18, of Cooper City, was taken to jail from school
and charged with two counts of computer crime with intent to defraud,
a second-degree felony, according to a Broward Sheriff's Office
report. He was released from jail on bail, has been suspended from
school and will be recommended for expulsion, said Joe Melita, head of
the Broward County School District's investigative unit.
Shrouder serves as the alternate student advisor to the Broward School
Board. He often sits in on board meetings and was issued a school
district laptop computer. Sheriff's Office investigators say Shrouder
took advantage of that access and used an employee password to access
the district's network and change the grades of 19 students. It's
unclear whether authorities think he changed his own grades.
Shrouder was considered the main suspect, but other students could be
punished for being involved, Melita said.
Shrouder's attorney said his client will plead not guilty and that he
is being unfairly singled out.
"To charge a kid with a computer crime is absurd," said Fort
Lauderdale attorney Fred Haddad. "There's plenty of ways to handle
this besides charging a felony."
Shrouder had been elected leader of his sophomore, junior and senior
classes at Cooper City High and recently was voted "most likely to be
president" of the United States.
Rumors of the arrest spread quickly at the school Tuesday.
Administrators delayed the second-period bell so students would remain
in class while deputies took Shrouder from the school.
Kara Olesky, student government president at Cooper City High, said
Shrouder was well liked and appeared to be "headed in a positive
"We were shocked," she said. "We would never have thought anyone would
attempt something like that."
The report filed by the Sheriff's Office detailed the alleged
grade-tampering as follows:
On Nov. 2, an assistant principal told authorities that the school had
begun investigating unauthorized grade changes. Course grades from
previous years for 19 students, mostly seniors, had been altered.
Cooper City High's bookkeeper told investigators that in the week
before the grades were changed she witnessed Shrouder in the office of
the computer technology specialist looking for a "sign-on" password to
the district network. The technology specialist had left his passwords
on a notepad in his desk, according to the report.
Investigators later determined that the employee's sign-on account was
the same one used to access the grades program and modify the marks.
A Cooper City High student witness told authorities that on Oct. 30 he
saw Shrouder use his laptop to access the computer application that
manages pupil grades. Another student said Shrouder approached her at
a party the next day and said he altered her grades, along with those
of other students.
Sheriff's Office investigators reviewed video surveillance and
forensic computer examinations to back up the witnesses' statements,
according to the report.
Advisors to the School Board are given laptops that have access to the
district network for e-mail purposes, but they don't have the security
clearance to log into the application that manages grades, officials
Last year, a West Boca Raton High student used employee passwords to
hack into the Palm Beach County district network and change
transcripts for students at four high schools. He was ordered to pay
restitution and complete a yearlong program to avoid being prosecuted
for felony computer fraud.
Staff Writer Jean-Paul Renaud contributed to this report.
Douane D. James can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-385-7930.
Copyright 2006 Sun-Sentinal.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I suspect the poor guy is absolutely
mortified today. I am reminded of the teenage kid in the 1950's who
had a very cushy job working at University of Chicago in the telephone
switchboard room. After graduation from high school he worked one
summer on the overnight shift in the phone room -- alone -- and on
those terribly hot summer nights between the hours of 3 and 5 in the
morning with _nothing_ to do, he devised a scheme to defraud telco
of its money on international long distance calls. It all worked quite
well -- or so he thought -- until one Sunday morning.
6:45 AM on a Sunday morning in August, he was quite anxious to get off
work. The two day shift operators started at 7, he would be free to
leave, walk over to the Hyde Park Coffee Shop for breakfast, then go
home to shower, change clothes and meet Mother for services at
Rockefeller Chapel, where the very smart young man and his Mother were
in charge of the after-service tea and little cakes served to the
congregation as refreshments. Then, his intention was to spend the
afternoon on the Promentory Beach at 55th Street exhibiting himself to
others of his persuasion and nap for a few hours before going back to
work that night.
Two day shift operators show up a couple minutes before 7 AM; he bids
them adieu, walks to the elevator and rides down to the first floor.
When he steps out of the elevator, two men approach him, both of
whom were impeccably dressed. Calling him by name, the one man
shows identification which identifies him as a telephone security
representative for Illinois Bell; "and this gentleman with me is
Officer (name), a Chicago Police Detective."
Oh my ... so that day, instead of breakfast at the hotel coffee shop
followed by Chapel services and an afternoon on the beach, much of
the day was spent at the Wentworth District police lockup, with his
Mother there with money in hand to bail him out of jail. Later that
afternoon, back at home, a registered letter arrived for the kid from
the telephone chief operator at University of Chicago telling him he
was officially dismissed and was NOT to return to work nor be on the
premises again. Then the next day, Monday, his picture appeared in
the Maroon -- UC daily newspaper -- with a story headlined "Overnight
Campus Phone Operator Arrested on Fraud Charges."
Yes, I imagine Master Schrouder is quite mortified today by his
circumstances. A teenager 45 years ago was likewise severely mortified
in his attempt to defraud. PAT]