About fifty students at Berkeley High School are facing suspensions and four others are facing expulsion for masterminding an elaborate scam to ditch class. The scam itself wasn't that elaborate — the kids apparently got ahold of an admin password for the school's attendance database, allowing them to mark anyone's absences as excused from any computer. But as these things tend to go with High School kids, a small cottage industry popped up once they started selling access to getting out of class without a doctor's note.
BHS Principal Pasquale Scuderi (sidenote: awesome principal name) didn't disclose how much money the four kingpins of cutting class pocketed by charging to erase absences from the system, but they were eventually found out by school staff performing an audit of the student data. What apparently started (as it always does) with "a couple of guys on the football team," according to one kid on the football team interviewed by CBS5 eventually turned in to a deep crime ring by the end. Some satisfied customers we even re-selling excused absences on a secondary market.
For their part, the kids in charge were on something of an impossible mission to begin with. Their motives sort of make sense in that teenage way: up to 20% of a student's grade is attendance-based at BHS and that's just, like, unfair. Y'know? But Principal Scuderi just hired a Dean of Attendance to crack down on chronic truancy last year. (And this is Berkeley we're talking about here, so we wouldn't be surprised if a lot of that was chronic truancy. Get it? Because: 4/20 is tomorrow.) We can't really decide if that makes these kids incredibly bold or incredibly stupid. But that's part of the fun of being a teenager, right? You get to be bold and stupid at the same time.
Anyhow, Principal Scuderi sounds like the tough-but-fair type of Principal. We don't know him personally, so we won't say for sure, but he thinks expulsion is a fair punishment for the kids who first hacked in to the attendance database, based on the sheer number of man-hours his staff spent tracking them down. He also hoped this would become a "teachable moment" for the everyone at the school, because that's just the kind of guy that he is.
And of course, it all made the nightly news! CBS5 has the video report.