Mom, Daughter Accused of Hacking Homecoming Queen Election

An assistant principal at an elementary school is accused of hacking student accounts to cast fraudulent votes for her daughter who was elected homecoming queen at her high school, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a press release Monday that they arrested 50-year-old Laura Rose Carroll and her daughter who both live in Pensacola. Investigators said they cast 246 votes in Tate High School’s homecoming court election, Fox 13 reported.

The teenager was named homecoming queen in October and in November, FDLE began investigating when the Escambia County School District reported unauthorized access into hundreds of student accounts.

The agency detailed the events in a Facebook post Monday.

The investigation found that Carroll, an assistant principal at Bellview Elementary School, and her daughter, a student at Tate High School, had accessed student FOCUS accounts. Carroll had district level access of the school board’s FOCUS program which is the school district’s student information system. FOCUS users are required to change their password every 45 days and Carroll’s annual training for the “Staff Responsible Use of Guidelines for Technology” was up to date.

In October 2020, hundreds of votes for Tate High School’s Homecoming Court voting were flagged as fraudulent, with 117 votes originating from the same IP address within a short period of time. Agents uncovered evidence of unauthorized access to FOCUS linked to Carroll’s cell phone as well as computers associated with their residence, with a total of 246 votes cast for the Homecoming Court.

Multiple students reported that Carroll’s daughter described using her mother’s FOCUS account to cast votes, the agency said.

Carroll and her daughter were each charged with offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks and electronic devices; unlawful use of a two-way communications device; criminal use of personally identifiable information; and conspiracy to commit these offenses, the release said. All but the conspiracy charge are listed as third-degree felonies.

Dr. Timothy Smith, Superintendent of Escambia County Schools, told WEAR-TV, “The district isn’t able to divulge any additional information outside of what FDLE shared because of the nature of the investigation,” adding that Carroll Carroll has been suspended from her job.

Carroll was booked into the Escambia County Jail Monday afternoon and released just after 3:00 p.m. on a $6,000 bond. Her daughter was taken into custody and transferred to the Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center, the release said.

Her daughter has been expelled from Tate High School, the agency said.

“The Office of the State Attorney, First Judicial Circuit will prosecute this case,” Fox13 outlet concluded.

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met and married an American journalist and moved to D.C. from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A. in Graphics, Media, and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

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