10th grader who infected school computers named a ‘cyber terrorist’

Education // Pennsylvania, United States

High school administrators suspended the Pennsylvania teen for 10 days, vowing expulsion and threatening a federal investigation after the school's computer server was hacked and corrupted by a virus.

The student's attorney asked for and was granted a preliminary injunction to block the suspension, saying the allegations and suspension were based on unsubstantiated suspicions.

Court papers indicate the student's parents were told he "is being investigated as a cyber-terrorist, and that the district was considering referrals to law enforcement, including federal law enforcement."

At a hearing, district officials told the parents the teen allegedly uploaded a virus after hacking into the school's computer system, and members of the school's technology department terminated the attack before the system crashed.

The school's director of technology, Bill Gartrell, claimed the student infected the system with files that continually duplicated "over and over" and finally reached 1.5 million records by the time "we stopped his account," court documents say.

"This would have crashed the servers if we hadn't stopped it," Gartrell said in an email to the high school’s principal.

The boy’s attorney said the district relied on Gartrell's assumption that his client was the hacker, but never allowed the student or his attorney to dispute Gartrell's "hearsay statement."


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