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Mom allegedly hacks school computer, changes kids' grades

A Pennsylvania woman who used to work for a school district is accused of accessing computers at her children's school to, in one case, change her son's score from 98 percent to 99.

The school district believes in "Excellence Through Learning." One wonders how many students will get to Wall Street
Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

There is nothing like a mother's love. Or, perhaps, her shame.

Who knows what allegedly moved Catherine Venusto, who stands accused of illegally accessing the Northwestern Lehigh School District's computers and altering history. Her children's history.

Or, at least, their chemistry and math.

The allegation is that she used knowledge gained as a former employee of the school district to poke her way into the computer system, using the superintendent's password and that of 9 other employees.

The Morning Call declares that she allegedly altered her daughter's failing grade to a medical exception.

However, another accusation might bring tears to an eye or two, for she is also accused of changing one of her son's grades from 98 percent to 99.

Court records reportedly show that she admitted accessing the school records, motivated by a mixture of "curiosity and boredom." Perhaps the boredom led to the curiosity.

Once the superintendent, Mary Ann Wright, was confronted with the potential security breach and declared that she had not altered any grades, the computer system was shut down and an investigation launched.

Court orders soon revealed ISP information. In all, Venusto allegedly entered the computer system 110 times using the superintendent's password and thousands of times in all. However, only two grades were allegedly changed.

The school district issued a press release quoting Wright as saying: "The acts were intentional, criminal action to obtain protected information."

Venusto allegedly claimed that she believed what she had done was unethical, but not illegal.

Authorities, who charged her with three counts of unlawful use of a computer and computer trespassing, will attempt to prove that it was, indeed, against the law.

Some might consider that, if the allegations are proven, Venusto exercised remarkable restraint in attempting to improve her children's grades.

I can imagine some mothers might really have become addled by such potential power.