A Pensacola teenage girl and her mother, an elementary school assistant principal, were arrested Tuesday for allegedly hacking hundreds of student accounts to fraudulently vote for the teen as homecoming queen in the fall, police said.
Laura Rose Carroll, 50, and her 17-year-old daughter, Emily Rose Grover, have each been charged with offenses against computers, unlawful use of a two-way communications device, criminal use of personally identifiable information, and conspiracy to commit these offenses.
An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began in November when the Escambia County School District reported that hundreds of student accounts had been illegally accessed.
Investigators determined that Carroll, an assistant principal at Bellview Elementary School, and her daughter, a student at Tate High School, had accessed student FOCUS accounts.
The FDLE said Carroll had district-level access to the school board’s FOCUS program – the school district’s student information system.
The investigation came after hundreds of votes for Tate High School’s Homecoming Court were flagged as fraudulent, with nearly 120 votes coming from the same IP address within a short period of time, the FDLE said.
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Investigators linked unauthorized access to FOCUS to Carroll’s cell phone as well as computers associated with her home address, with nearly 250 votes having been cast for the Homecoming Court.
Investigators said multiple students reported that Grover had described using her mom’s FOCUS account to cast votes in her favor.
Carroll was booked into the Escambia County Jail with a bond set at $8,500, while Grover was taken into custody and transferred to the Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center.
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It wasn’t immediately clear if they had an attorney who could speak on their behalf. The Office of the State Attorney, First Judicial Circuit will be prosecuting the case, the FDLE said.