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Students in Corona del Mar cheating scandal face range of discipline

Students involved in the Corona del Mar High School grade-changing incident may not be forced to leave the district.

The roughly dozen Corona del Mar students accused of hacking into the high school's computers to access tests and change grades are facing various disciplinary actions, including expulsion and stipulated expulsion, which allow them to transfer to another high school within Newport-Mesa Unified, district spokeswoman Laura Boss told the Daily Pilot.

Stipulated expulsions also seal students' disciplinary records, so they are not available during the college admissions process.

"I can confirm that one of the possible components of a stipulated expulsion is that the student may be allowed to attend another school within the school district," Boss said. "At this time, anything else is speculation and rumor."

Newport-Mesa Unified trustees will be tasked with deciding the fate of the students at an upcoming board meeting.

The exact date of the board meeting has not been determined, said Trustee Katrina Foley.

The students are accused of attaching a keylogger -- a small device that can be placed in the back of a computer to monitor keystrokes -- to at least one teacher's computer to swipe logins and passwords.

With the recorded data, the students allegedly changed grades and accessed test questions.

Trustees must make a decision about how to discipline the students within 30 days of the recommendation, according to school board policy.

If the board decides to expel the students, they are prohibited from returning to any Newport-Mesa school for a year, according to district policy.

Boss declined to specify the number of students involved.

The district is reviewing 52,000 grade entries from the last year to identify how many student records have been compromised, Boss said.

Newport Beach police have been working with the district for nearly a month to investigate the scope of the cheating. While the students could face criminal charges for their actions, none have been filed yet.

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hannah.fry@latimes.com

Fry reports for Times Community News.

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