Berkeley students popped for attendance hack

Gone are the innocent days where you faked being sick so your mom would call school and tell them you wouldn’t be coming in. Welcome to the era where students, perhaps too smart for their own good, hack into the school’s attendance system and clear absences from other students’ records — for a fee.

That’s exactly what administrators say happened at Berkeley High School between October and January. This underground attendance-selling scheme has led to 50 students being suspended, and up to four could be expelled.

According to Principal Pasquale Scuderi, staff discovered there had been a breach in the school’s attendance system and found several student accounts with apparently unauthorized changes to their attendance records.

At least four students got their hands on an administrative password that allowed them to access the database, according to the school. Once the students had access, they asked classmates to cough up money in exchange for clearing absences or tardy marks on their records.

Scuderi wouldn’t say how much money changed hands, but did confirm that about 50 students participated in the scam.

He said he believes that expelling the students who launched the scam is an appropriate response. Especially considering staff had to investigate records for all 3,200 students in the database to figure out who was involved.

Berkeley High doesn’t mess around with attendance either. Last year the school hired a Dean of Attendance to oversee the school’s attendance process and cut down on chronic truancy. In turn, their attendance record inched up to 94 percent compared to last year’s 92 percent.