Correction to This Article
A June 15 Metro article about a computer security breach at Col. Zadok Magruder High School should have mentioned that the news was first reported the previous day in the Montgomery County Sentinel. The article also incorrectly called Lee Evans the acting principal. Evans is now the school's principal.

Magruder High Probes Breach Of Computer

By Lori Aratani
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 15, 2007

Montgomery County police and school officials are investigating a "computer breach" at Col. Zadok Magruder High School, near Rockville, a school district spokesman said yesterday.

Brian Edwards, spokesman for the Montgomery County school system, said the incident involves students, but he would not say more about who or how many they are because the matter is under investigation.

Police have been brought into the case because criminal charges might be filed, Edwards said. Lucille Baur, a Montgomery police spokeswoman, confirmed that an investigation began May 30.

Edwards said a number of people must be interviewed before the investigation can be completed.

Martha Schaerr, president of Magruder's PTSA, said she had a heard that a "small number" of students had breached the school's computer system.

"My understanding was that they were changing grades,'' she said. "It's very sad. They're just so smart, and it's kind of a game to them. They don't realize there are serious consequences."

Lee Evans, acting principal of Magruder, could not be reached for comment. Yesterday was the final day of classes at the school.

Although officials throughout the region and across the country say they have worked to improve network security, there have been other incidents in which students have breached systems. In January, Valor Dictus, the student newspaper at James W. Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax reported that two students had been suspended for hacking into the school server and sending out a fake e-mail.

Many schools require students to sign "integrity pledges" that outline acceptable computer behavior, and some have turned to the courts to crack down on those who break the rules.

In a New Jersey case, an honor student hacked into a school computer to change some grades as part of a practical joke, but then he began changing grades -- mostly turning Bs into As -- for cash. He pleaded guilty to third-degree computer theft.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company