A Florida assistant principal and her daughter were accused of rigging a high school’s homecoming queen election and were accused of accessing the school district’s system to cast fraudulent votes for the girl, officials said.
Laura Rose Carroll, 50, and her 17-year-old daughter were arrested by officials on Monday. They face charges of 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, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
About a month after the October 2020 homecoming election at Tate High School in Pensacola, officials investigated reports of unauthorized access into hundreds of student accounts, the agency said.
Carroll, who works as an assistant principal at Bellview Elementary School, and her daughter accessed student FOCUS accounts as Carroll had school district-level access to the school board’s FOCUS program, officials said.
“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,” said the agency in a release. “Agents uncovered evidence of unauthorized access to FOCUS linked to Carroll’s cell phone as well as computers associated with their residence.”
A total of 246 votes cast for the Homecoming Court were in favor of Carroll’s daughter, the news release added.
Meanwhile, “Multiple students reported that the daughter described using her mother’s FOCUS account to cast votes,” said the agency. “The investigation also found that beginning August 2019, Carroll’s FOCUS account accessed 372 high school records and 339 of those were of Tate High School students.”
“I recall times that [the teen] logged onto her mom’s FOCUS account and openly shared information, grades, schedules, etc., with others,” a student allegedly told investigators, according to the arrest document, reported The Washington Post. “She did not seem like logging in was a big deal and was very comfortable with doing so.”
Another student allegedly told investigators: “She looks up all of our group of friends grades and makes comments about how she can find our test scores all the time.”
Carroll was booked into the Escambia County Jail, where her bond was set at $8,500. Her daughter was taken to the Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center.
District Superintendent Tim Smith told the Pensacola News Journal that Carroll was suspended from her job, and her daughter was expelled from Tate High School.
It’s not clear if either Carroll or her daughter have attorneys.