Woman Accused In Tate High Homecoming Vote Scandal Enters Not Guilty Plea

April 8, 2021

The mom and former assistant principal accused  along with her daughter of improperly using school district computers to cast Tate High homecoming queen votes entered a plea of not guilty in court Thursday morning.

Laura Carroll, former assistant principal at Bellview Elementary School, and her 17-year old daughter, Emily Rose Grover, where charged by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement with one count each of offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks, and electronic devices (a third degree felony), unlawful use of a two-way communications device (a third degree felony), criminal use of personally identifiable information (a third degree felony) and conspiracy to commit these offenses (a first degree misdemeanor).

Carrol, who is free a $6,000 bond, waived her right to appearance and was not in court Thursday morning. Her case is next set for a docket hearing on July 21.

Grover, who was named Tate High School’s 2020 homecoming queen, will be tried as a juvenile in the case that has received international media coverage.

The investigation began in November 2020 when the Escambia County School District contacted FDLE to report unauthorized access into hundreds of student accounts. The investigation found that Carroll, an assistant principal at Bellview Elementary School, and Grover, a student at Tate High School, had accessed student FOCUS accounts. Carroll had district level access of the school board’s FOCUS program which is the school district’s student information system. FOCUS users are required to change their password every 45 days and Carroll’s annual training for the “Staff Responsible Use of Guidelines for Technology” was up to date.

In October 2020, hundreds of votes for Tate High School’s Homecoming Court voting were flagged as fraudulent, with 117 votes originating from the same IP address within a short period of time. Agents uncovered evidence of unauthorized access to FOCUS linked to Carroll’s cellphone as well as computers associated with their residence, with a total of 246 votes cast for the homecoming court. Multiple students reported that the Grover described using her mother’s FOCUS account to cast votes. The investigation also found that beginning August 2019, Carroll’s FOCUS account accessed 372 high school records and 339 of those were of Tate High School students.

Arrest affidavits obtained by NorthEscambia.com provide more details into the allegations.

When two FDLE special agents responded to Carroll and Grover’s residence in Cantonment to interview them, Carroll immediately stated that she would defer any questions to her attorney, FDLE said.

FDLE received nine statements from students and a teacher that all stated Grover spoke about accessing Carroll’s FOCUS account or they have seen her access it for almost four years.

“I have known that Emily Grover logs into her moms school account in order to access grades and test scores since freshman year when we became friends,” one student said in a statement to FDLE. “She has looked up [redacted] student ID before to [redacted]. She also knows that if she logs into her moms account at Tate it will ping that Laura Grover signed in at Tate High School. She looks up all of our group of friends grades and makes comments about how she can find out our test scores all of the time.”

“When Emily Grover was a sophomore [redacted] class, I recall times that she logged onto her moms focus account and openly shared information, grades, schedules, etc. with others. She did not seem like logging in was a big deal and was very comfortable with doing so,” another statement written by a witness said.

According to FDLE, the Escambia County School District FOCUS program contains grades, medical history, test scores, attendance, disciplinary actions, personnel information, emergency contacts, schedules, exceptional student education (ESE) information, student picture and student identification number. Teachers and staff members are able to view student profiles or more depending on access level.

The school district uses an application called Election Runner to perform activities such as homecoming court voting. FDLE was notified that Election Runner contacted the school district regarding over 100 flagged votes and an ethics complaint involving the Tate High School homecoming voting.

Carroll contested Grover’s expulsion from Tate High School that stemmed from the incident. An administrative hearing was held, and Grover’s expulsion was upheld.

Pictured above and below: Laura Rose Carroll, Bellview Elementary Facebook and Escambia County Jail; Emily Rose Grover, Tate High School’s 2020 homecoming queen, NorthEscambia.com photos.

Comments

18 Responses to “Woman Accused In Tate High Homecoming Vote Scandal Enters Not Guilty Plea”

  1. John Reading on April 10th, 2021 4:52 pm

    the cure for this will the the school board FINDING another couple of million dollars to revamp their computer system and security. BIG PRICE for a rare deal

  2. Howie on April 10th, 2021 2:07 pm

    Superintendent – Dr. Timothy A. Smith, I hope you have changed the FOCUS policy from the present to only allowing District Employees to search their school only. Principal and Assistant Principals included. What business do they have searching another student’s records at a school elsewhere in the district? If you really dig deep, you may find that some School employees are searching records of their own children, neighbor children, children of friends and relatives. NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS if they attend a different school.

    Laura Carroll it’s bad enough you peeked into Tate High records, then allowed your daughter to do it and cast votes. Both of you are criminals. I bet that makes your daughter’s Daddy proud as he stood on the field with a big winning smile. Then finding out the win was rigged. Hopefully both of you can wear a crown in jail and be known as the “Jail Queen”.

  3. Derek W on April 10th, 2021 5:40 am

    Just a thought……An assistant principle in a middle school should not have access to every child’s school record in the county! I understand if they have access to children in their school but not every single child in the school district!! The same should be said for principals as well…. The School Superintendent bears some responsibility here and should change this immediately!!!

  4. Beth on April 9th, 2021 7:53 pm

    Mom! You have caused life changing pain for your daughter. So sad.

  5. Charlie Mike on April 9th, 2021 7:36 pm

    Has this woman had a psych eval? Seems appropriate.

  6. Just Me on April 9th, 2021 5:59 pm

    Come on you are GUILTY you either gave your daughter the password or logged on for her either way you were not upholding your security privileges for your job….Site contains personal information about other students…..I think you were completely behind what your daughter was doing.

  7. bob c on April 9th, 2021 3:58 pm

    IF — IF, found GUILTY of a FELONY this mother and daughter will have Cancelled any chances the girl had for scholarships, college entry and job opportunities where any sort of security clearance will be required.
    Mom, I sure hope this all was worth it for your daughter…SAD.

  8. AC on April 9th, 2021 3:00 pm

    For the life of me I can’t remember who won homecoming queen, or most popular, or any other of the silly awards won in high school. It didn’t matter to me then, and it certainly doesn’t now. A few years from now I’m sure very few people at Tate High would remember either. What they WILL remember is the “alleged” criminal conspiracy to put this girl in that position. Now I’m sure the popularity that was sooooo important to her and her mother is all but gone, along with the mother’s career. Seems a mighty hefty price to pay for such a little insignificant thing.

  9. tom on April 9th, 2021 2:29 pm

    how stupid can you be. not the most popular girl in class, so lets cheat to make it appear that she is……………dumb people

  10. tater on April 9th, 2021 1:54 pm

    Seems the facts reported point to guilty,, but pleading not guilty? well she is saying she didn’t do it – oh what a tangled web – there may be a plea deal in the works .

    If the allegations turn out to be true, any future holding a position of public trust in the community is fading away and homecoming queen with a crown obtained by illegal means, well she may wanna delete that from any future resumes.

  11. Ear to Ear on April 9th, 2021 12:18 pm

    She looks different while smiling…

  12. Tammy on April 9th, 2021 11:11 am

    They wanted that homecoming win BAD!!!!!!!!!! OMG how ridiculous

  13. elmer on April 9th, 2021 8:23 am

    I wonder why it was so important for her daughter to be homecoming queen

  14. Anne on April 9th, 2021 5:28 am

    Were Parents & Students, whose records were accessed by these two, ever informed that the school records were looked at, were any changed?
    Why doesn’t that school data system “FOCUS” have built-in safeguards against the unauthorized “peeking” into student records?
    Waht a sad statement about these two where Winning some award is more important than honesty and integrity.

  15. Chris J Paul on April 8th, 2021 7:37 pm

    Year or so of probation.
    1000 fine,
    No more good seats at the NASCAR races.
    No money stolen, no seniors ripped off.
    Much ado about not much.

  16. db on April 8th, 2021 4:23 pm

    The response of our school admin, at Tate and county level dropped the ball on this one. Like everyone else, we learned through the news. Tate principal won’t even call me back. Talked to superintendant, and he had no answers, covering their butts.
    Every Parent of a Tate kid should be ringing their phones off the hook as to why they have not notified the parents who’s kids had there info accessed.
    Clown show, fdle is no better.

  17. steve on April 8th, 2021 1:51 pm

    They have Lawyers, AS SHOULD ANYONE facing a felony crime.
    The lawyers will work out a deal and they will already know the outcome.

    Proving someone did a crime is a lot harder than you think. But the criminal knows they are guilty and will take a plea almost every time.

  18. Inigo Montoya on April 8th, 2021 12:30 pm

    I strongly believe in innocent until proven guilty, but it doesn’t look good for these two… May TRUE justice prevail and the truth be known.





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