Pensacola, FL – Authorities arrested a mother and daughter on Monday for illegally accessing school databases to change votes for Homecoming Queen.
The investigation began in November of 2020 after the Escambia County School District noticed unusual activity surrounding votes for the Homecoming Court, WEAR reported.
The school district contacted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and reported someone had made unauthorized access to hundreds of student accounts in the FOCUS system.
FDLE quickly identified 50-year-old Laura Rose Carroll and her 17-year-old daughter Emily Rose Grover as likely suspects in the crime, WEAR reported.
Carroll had access to the FOCUS database system that contained private student information and records because she was the assistant principal at Bellview Elementary School at the time of the crime.
FDLE said that hundreds of votes for Tate High School’s Homecoming Court voting were flagged as fraudulent in October of 2020, WEAR reported.
It turned out that 117 votes had originated from the same IP address, all within a short timeframe.
“The investigation found that Carroll… and her daughter… had accessed student FOCUS accounts,” the FDLE wrote in a press release. “Carroll had district-level access to the school board’s FOCUS program, which is the school district’s student information system. FOCUS users are required to change their password every 45 days and Carroll’s annual training for the ‘Staff Responsible Use of Guidelines for Technology’ was up to date.”
Her daughter was a student at Tate High School and she was running for Homecoming Queen, WEAR reported.
Grover became Homecoming Queen as a result of the manipulation of the voting within the FOCUS system.
“Agents uncovered evidence of unauthorized access to FOCUS linked to Carroll’s cell phone as well as computers associated with their residence, with a total of 246 votes cast for the Homecoming Court,” according to the FDLE press release.
And authorities said Grover hadn’t kept her mother’s shenanigans a secret, either, WEAR reported.
“Multiple students reported that the daughter described using her mother’s FOCUS account to cast votes,” the press release said. “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.”
Superintendent of Escambia County Schools Dr. Timothy Smith said Carroll had been suspended from her job, WEAR reported.
“The district isn’t able to divulge any additional information outside of what FDLE shared because of the nature of the investigation,” Smith added.
Carroll and her daughter were both arrested on Monday, WEAR reported.
Both Carroll and Grover were charged with one count each of offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks, and electronic devices (a 3rd-degree felony), unlawful use of a two-way communications device (a 3rd-degree felony), criminal use of personally identifiable information (a 3rd-degree felony), and conspiracy to commit these offenses (a 1st-degree misdemeanor).
Escambia County Jail records showed the Carroll was released on a $6,000 bond on March 15, WEAR reported.
She is scheduled to appear in court on April 8, according to Heavy.
Grover was arrested and transferred to the Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center.
The Florida State’s Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit is prosecuting the mother-daughter crime duo, WEAR reported.