What had been a mystery in Orange, New Jersey, sounded like a scene out of 'Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,' the 1986 John Hughes movie about a high school student played by Matthew Broderick who skipped school but used his computer to change his attendance record.
A 16-year-old sophomore from Orange has been charged with doing that and more. Essex County prosecutors say the teen, whose name was not disclosed because of his age, hacked into the records of his school district and changed the grades and attendance records of several students.
The teen has been charged with multiple counts of computer theft and one count of hindering apprehension. He was released on his own recognizance, according to authorities.
The criminal investigation began when school officials notified police that an unauthorized person had gained access to the school’s computer system using the password of a staff member.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly said the investigation is ongoing and additional charges and arrests are possible. Several students who avoided criminal prosecution were disciplined by the school district in the case.
More than 100 students were questioned. Many of them said they were unaware of the changes to their grades, according to prosecutors.
"I worked so hard, and for something I didn't know and know nothing about, they give me ten days plus I'm not really graduating," student Natalee Dean told ABC station WABC last week. "Why are we being punished for something we don't know about?" asked Dean.