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An assistant principal and her daughter face up to 16 years behind bars for allegedly rigging their Florida high school’s homecoming queen election in their favor.
Emily Rose Grover and her mother Laura Rose Carroll, 50, were arrested in March after an investigation found that Carroll and Grover hacked into the system of Tate High School in Cantonment to ensure that Grover was elected, according to a press release from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
While Grover was arrested when she was still 17, she's recently turned 18 and is now being charged as an adult.
"This is not unusual with young people of that age," prosecutor John Molchan told the Pensacola News Journal. "Juvenile (court) cannot do anything or supervise them after they become 18. And so it just makes better sense to move them into adult court where they can be supervised effectively."
Carroll, an assistant principal at Bellview Elementary School, had district level access to the school district’s student information system, known as FOCUS. She’s accused of abusing this power to switch hundreds of votes to her daughter's favor. Investigators note that in October, hundreds of votes were flagged as fraudulent, with 117 votes originating from the same IP address within a short period of time.
“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,” the press release states. “Multiple students reported that the daughter described using her mother’s FOCUS account to cast votes. 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.”
The mother-daughter duo have been charged on one count each 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.
Grover and Carroll each face a maximum 16-year sentence, the Associated Press reports. Grover has been freed on a $2,000 bond, while her mother was released on a $6,000 bond.
Carroll pleaded not guilty to the charges in April. It’s not clear if either have an attorney. Carroll has been suspended from her job. Grover was expelled from Tate High School, according to the Associated Pess.
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