Mother stole passwords to change children’s school grades

A Pennsylvania school assistant has been charged with misusing passwords to access and change her children’s grades on the institution’s computer system.

Catherine Venusto, 45, of Weisenberg Township near Allentown is accused of accessing Northwestern Lehigh School District’s computer system 110 times over an 18-month period until this February, altering her son and daughter’s subject grades.

Oddly, the alleged tampering was often extremely subtle, in one example reportedly changing her son’s 98 per cent score to 99 per cent, on another adjusting her daughter’s ‘F’ grade to ‘M’ for ‘medical’.

Venusto also accessed the District’s human resources systems, opening large numbers of files relating to staff contracts and confidential employee reports.

The tweaks only came to light after teachers noticed that the school superintendent from whom the password had been taken appeared to be taking an unusual interest in computer-based gradebooks.

“Within three hours of suspecting unauthorized access, email, student information system and the district shared drive were shut down until we were able to fully identify the issue,” said superintendent, Dr. Mary Anne Wright.

“New security measures were put in place before the systems were accessed again by staff, students or parents.” The information had not been used for illegal purposes, she indicated.

“We are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again, and new security procedures are in place to better assure that our systems are protected from such attempts.”

Venusto was charged with six counts of computer misuse and computer trespass before being released on a $30,000 bail.

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