In a story seemingly destined to become a Lifetime TV movie, Caroline Maria McNeal of Huntingdon, PA, used her secretary position to gain access to the school's computers to improve her daughter's grades—while lowering the grades of others.
McNeal allegedly swiped the passwords of three of her co-workers to change her daughter's test scores and grades, in addition to lowering the scores and grades of her daughter's classmates. According to the Associated Press, "McNeal is accused of altering nearly 200 scores and grades covering four school years," which gives me a title for the Lifetime adaptation: "Mother, May I Ruin Other Children's Academic Careers In Order To Make Sure My Kid Gets An A? The Caroline McNeal Story."
McNeal was busted when her daughter, Brittany, had conflicting SAT scores in different databases: the official test results, distributed by the College Board, showed that Brittany had scored a 1370. The school's records, however, displayed a result of 1730. It was then discovered that McNeal had entered the score before the official records had even arrived at the school. Busted!
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, McNeal has since been charged with "charged with 29 counts of unlawful use of a computer and 29 counts of tampering with public records, all third-degree felonies." Along with the SAT scores, McNeal raised her daughter's grades by several points in different classes, and had the nerve to bump her competitors down a few points, going so far as to reduce the grades of two girls who were ranked higher than Brittany.
It is easy to be mad at Ms. McNeal: she's a cheat, and what she did was terrible, especially because her actions affected not only her daughter, but other students who worked hard to earn the grades that she attempted to take from them. But perhaps this case speaks to the weird competitiveness of high school, the push for that ever-important class rank and the scholarships it may bring. Unfortunately, Ms. McNeal took the selfish, easy way out, and tried to stomp on other people's futures to ensure that her daughter's would be secure. Brittany's grades were good to begin with: in some cases, McNeal simply bumped her from a 94 to a 95. Sadly, it seems that no matter what her daughter accomplished, McNeal didn't think it was enough, and in trying to push other people out of the way in order to get her daughter ahead, all she ended up doing was making both of them look pretty terrible.
Brittany may have walked out of high school with As on her report card, but her mother just received a big ol' F in ethics, and it's going to come with a price.