Teachers and staff at Dixon High School and the Dixon Unified School District discovered on Wednesday, May 13 that computer files of nine teacher containing students’ grades had been hacked and about 200 grades of at least 32 students were changed.
One teacher had reviewed her grades on Tuesday, and while re-checking them Wednesday noticed the discrepancy. The teacher immediately informed the Principal, who in turn told the Superintendent, Brian Dolan.
Dolan called Dixon Police Chief Jon Cox, and also the school district’s legal counsel to ensure due process was followed and rights of the students were preserved while dealing with the crime. Under California law it is a felony to make unauthorized alterations to a data base.
Police investigators arrived on campus at 2:42 pm. They were able to identify a student who is suspected of the hacking as well as others who are believed to be involved.
Thursday morning the police investigators returned to the campus and arrested an senior who was booked into the Solano County Jail. Because the suspect is 18 years old he has been charged as an adult. His bail was set at $15,000. That bail was raised and he is now back home pending further legal action. The suspect had just celebrated his 18th birthday a few days before the incident.
Three other students were suspended. According to Dolan, of the 32 students some clearly were involved and others may not have been actively involved even though their grades were altered.
At a press conference at the high school on Friday, May 15, Dolan described the grade alterations are ranging from minor with some being major – but nothing extreme. He said the changes were very strategic and seemed designed to minimize suspicions and if undetected would have made little difference for the students whose grades were fraudulent raised.
In response to a question from the media, Dolan said the staff and teachers “believe in our kids, love our kids” and feel the incident felt like a betrayal. He noted only a small fraction of the over 1,100 students were involved in any way and each student would be dealt with on a case by case basis.