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Former Miami students sentenced in grade scandal

Libby Mueller, Senior Staff Writer

Former Miami University student David Callahan, 22, was convicted in Butler County Area 1 Court of three charges of attempted unauthorized use of property, a first degree misdemeanor, for hacking into school computers and tampering with grades.

Callahan pleaded guilty to all three charges. He will pay $3,000 in fines, forfeit a computer external drive and key logger and serve one year on probation, according to court records.

The other former student involved in the grade changing, Beckley Parker, 22, convicted of six charges of attempted unauthorized use of property in June, and was ordered to serve 100 hours of community service and two years on probation.

He must also forfeit his computer and iPad and pay $1,500 in fines, according to court records.

Parker and Callahan were both members of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity separated both Parker and Callahan from the organization following the grade changing scandal.

Miami University communications director Claire Wagner said a key logger device had been used on classroom computers to record keystrokes made on the keyboard and obtain faculty unique IDs and passwords.

Parker and Callahan used faculty login information to change their grades and those of other students.

"About fifty students had at least one grade changed, plus one of the students, Beckley Parker, changed [grades] in 17 of his classes," Wagner said.

According to Wagner, Miami disciplinary actions separate from the court proceedings included dismissal of both students from the university.

Wagner said IT Services implemented changes last spring to prevent a similar occurrence in the future. Changes included a two-step email notification process that will alert instructors to grade changes.

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A weekly email report of all grade changes made in the previous week will also go to faculty members.

IT can also now perform a thermal scanning of classroom keyboards to detect one form of the key logger device that can be placed inside the keyboard, Wagner said.

All of the grades changed by Parker and Callahan were corrected, according to Wagner.

"We feel thoroughly confident that now people can have confidence in our grading system," Wagner said.

Miami University Police Department (MUPD) Chief of Police John McCandless said in his nine years at MUPD, he has not seen anything like the grade changing scandal.

"I've been here nine years and I can't remember [a similar incident]," McCandless said. "[But] student academic dishonesty isn't necessarily a criminal offense, so they certainly may catch students who cheat. That doesn't necessarily come to the police's attention."

Wagner confirmed that this is the first incident of its kind at Miami.