Emily Rose Grover wanted to be the Tate High School homecoming queen.
But Emily had something those other girls did not: an in. Her mom, Laura Rose Carroll, was the assistant principal at a nearby elementary school in the same Pensacola, Florida, county and she really wanted her daughter to be homecoming queen.
It’s a modern tale of high-tech deception, according to Florida law enforcement authorities, and it could land a mother and daughter in prison for 16 years if they are convicted on all the felony charges they face.
According to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office in Escambia, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and court records, the pair, who live in Cantonment, a suburb of Pensacola, are accused of hacking into the high school’s voting system in October 2020. Deputies say the pair wanted to ensure that Emily, then 17, would win the title.
It worked. Emily was named homecoming queen until it all unraveled, the State Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday when officials said the teenager would be charged as an adult.
Emily was 17 when arrested in March but turned 18 in April. Along with Carroll, 50, both face multiple felony charges including third-degree criminal conspiracy; accessing computer systems, networks and electronic devices without authority; unlawful use of a two-way communications device to facilitate a felony; and criminal use of personally identifiable information of another person without consent.
Emily’s charges include property crimes, fraud and public order crimes, according to court records.
According to investigators, when Carroll was assistant principal at nearby Bellview Elementary School, she accessed the school district’s internal system to cast fraudulent votes for her daughter so that she would win, The Associated Press reported.
The investigation started in November when the Escambia County School District reported unauthorized access into hundreds of student accounts, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.
Other students also told investigators that their classmate used her mother’s system access credentials and was not shy about boasting about that ability. She learned how to access school records by watching her mom for years before allegedly gaming the system to win the homecoming queen title, according to arrest reports.
Investigators found that mother and daughter cast 246 fraudulent votes across two devices on an application called Election Runner that lets students vote for positions on the homecoming court. Some 117 votes for Emily were cast from the same computer IP address in a short time, raising suspicions.
The Pensacola News Journal reported that the school district’s student council coordinator was told that Emily had allegedly talked about using her mom’s FOCUS account that has districtwide access to cast votes, according to arrest warrants. The FOCUS student data system gives parents, teachers and students access to grades and health records.
According to the Pensacola News Journal, Carroll was suspended from her job at Bellview Elementary and Emily was expelled by Tate High School, a move her mom tried to contest — unsuccessfully.
Oh, and yes, Tate stripped the former student of her title after the homecoming queen scandal erupted.
Grover’s bond was $6,000 and Emily’s bond was $2,000. Both have been released as of April 29.
Carroll denied the allegations at one of her hearings. The two will face the charges in court on May 14, according to court records.