[ISN] RBHS assistant principal on hacking case: 'Unique in its depth of ... depravity'

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Fri May 02 2008 - 01:26:17 PDT


By J. Harry Jones
May 1, 2008

RANCHO BERNARDO - An assistant principal revealed details of a cheating 
scandal uncovered at Rancho Bernardo High School, and his reaction to 
the decline of morality among some students, in an emotional memo to 

"Our (worst) technological nightmare has just occurred," Assistant 
Principal Keith Koelzer wrote. "At this point, we have identified 8 
students (with varying degrees of involvement) who hacked into our 
school network, downloaded several teacher's files on the flashdrives, 
distributed tests to students days before they were administered and 
altered grades on student transcripts. The eight students are all 
Advanced Placement students, they are all smart, but they have no 

"This case is unique in its depth of complexity and depravity."

Koelzer sent the memo [1] Saturday to teachers and other staff members 
by e-mail, the day after the scandal was uncovered. The San Diego 
Union-Tribune requested the memo, and the Poway Unified School District 
released it Thursday, with small parts of it redacted.

Until now, school officials have released few details about the ongoing 

"On Friday, one student went into incredible detail of his movements in 
this deceit over the past two months," Koelzer said in the memo. "After 
listening, I turned to his mother and asked, 'What do you think of this 
kind of morality?' The mother replied, 'I am not a mother anymore.' I 
asked the same question to the boy's father and he responded, 'This is 
not the morality of my ancestors.'"

Koelzer wrote that the pressure to get into a good college "has overly 
consumed one of our students. He described to his father and me how his 
transcripts were altered and personally delivered them to a college. As 
the student talked, I watched his father's face and I could see his 
18-year dream of his child's UC education disappear."

The names, ages and grade levels of the students have not been released. 
"We must honor the due process of these students," Koelzer said. "The 
stakes cannot be any higher for these students. They are staring at 
expulsion, questioning by police, questioning by our district 
technicians, (a) potential lawsuit by the district" and a rescinding of 
college offers.

On Monday, district Superintendent Donald Phillips said six students 
have been suspended while the investigation continues. Principal Paul 
Robinson said the police are aware of what has happened but are awaiting 
the results of the school investigation before proceeding.

In part of his memo, Koelzer philosophizes about drunk driving and how 
some students have lost their "moral compasses."

He said he recently attended the funeral of a 20-year-old Rancho 
Bernardo High graduate who died in a suspected drunk-driving-related 
accident in Poway three weeks ago.

Koelzer wrote that the father of the man killed in the accident asked 
for everybody in the church under the age of 21 to stand up. Then he 
asked all of those standing who had not had something to drink in the 
past two weeks to sit down.

Only five did, Koelzer said.

"I saw a current student five rows up from me continue to stand up, 
while his parents sat down next to him."

Koelzer wrote that the father of the dead 20-year-old had an opportunity 
to send a message, "but he blundered as his son lay in a coffin below 
him. He continued by saying that he has been smoking pot since he was 12 
years old and that he will continue to do so. He finished with a muddled 
message of 'slow down when you've been drinking and driving' and finally 
that it was 'better to get a DUI.' That's when I left."

Koelzer won teacher of the year honors in 2005 from the district and was 
promoted to assistant principal a short time later.

[1] http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/northcounty/images/080501rbhs.pdf

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