Students charged with hacking JCPS computer system

Published: Dec. 17, 2007 at 10:56 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 24, 2007 at 5:01 AM EST
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By Scott Harvey

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- Two local high school students and a former student are in trouble after authorities say they hacked into the school's computer system. It happened in October at Manual High School. As WAVE 3 Investigator Scott Harvey explains, the students were doing more than just changing grades.

School officials say they were smart kids, doing smart things.

"We are trying to determine how they did it," said Cary Petersen, Executive Director of Information Technology for Jefferson County Public Schools.

Petersen said they were still trying to determine how much damage was done and are in the process of correcting "everything as quickly as possible."

The two seniors and one former student could face stiff penalties for breaking into the JCPS computer system. School officials tell WAVE 3 News they don't know how long the students had been altering grades and attendance records, but an alert worker in the school's office noticed discrepancies, and that's what got the students caught.

"The attendance clerk at the school noticed what she had put in from one day was missing from the next," Petersen said.

School officials say changing grades and attendance records weren't the only things the hackers did.

"They created their own website," Petersen explained.

He said the alleged hackers also broke into individual teacher's computers and created a website -- -- named after Manual's principal, Dr. Beverly Keepers. Officials say the group posted tests and quizzes, along with the answers that went with them.

We checked the website. Now when you log on it simply says, "If you are looking for the infamous site everyone is talking about -- sorry. Check back later for more appropriate content."

Petersen told us the students worked at a computer parts store, which gave them access to equipment that students don't normally have.

"We believe there was a device that was put on the system itself," he explained. "It allowed them to get in the door. Once they got in the door, it was 'Ollie Ollie Oxen Free.' They could go anywhere they wanted to."

But school officials don't have the answer they really want -- why they did it?

"I think it was, for more or less, for show," Petersen said. "You know, 'look what I can do.'"

According to the JCPS Code of Conduct, the students have been suspended with a recommendation for alternative placement. If the school decides to press charges, school officials say the students could face jail time if they are convicted.

Petersen says the students are now working with school computer technicians to help improve the website's security.

Online Reporter: Scott Harvey

Online Producer: Charles Gazaway