Sixth-Grader Arrested for Allegedly Using Computer to Change Grade

A middle school student arrested on a felony charge for allegedly using his teacher's computer to change his reading assignment grades during lunch time is unlikely to get jail time, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The 11-year-old sixth-grader at St. Lucie West Middle was arrested Monday on a second-degree felony charge of offense against intellectual property. Authorities are not releasing the student's name because of his age.

The boy faces a 10-day suspension from school and a principal's recommendation that he be expelled. If convicted of a crime, he likely would get probation if he has no prior criminal record, but could be sentenced to a juvenile detention facility, said Ellen Mancini, an assistant state attorney in the St. Lucie County juvenile division.

The student was booked into the St. Lucie County jail, then released to his father. The father did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment.

The student told reading teacher Susan Seal he left his lunch in her room, a sheriff's report said. Instead of getting his food, the boy sat down at his teacher's computer, changed his grades on five reading assignments and saved them, the report said.

Math teacher Tanya Schmidt saw the boy at the computer and asked what he was doing. He told her that another teacher sent him to get a floppy disk.

When Schmidt asked the other teacher, she discovered the student was lying. He was sent to the office, where the dean called the school resource deputy.

Sheriff Ken Mascara said it is the first such case he has seen.

Mancini said the boy was engaged in a "scheme to defraud."

"It's cheating. It's depriving other students of the fairness of the system," Mancini said. "It's as much a fraud as anything else. Sometimes, you have to do things as an example of the authority of both the school system and the legal system."