Controversy Surrounds Teen with Autism’s Suspension for Alleged Computer Hacking at Cobb School

Patricia Skellie’s concerns have ignited controversy after her 14-year-old grandson, diagnosed with autism, was suspended from Barber Middle School for allegedly hacking into the Cobb County School District’s computer system. Skellie admits to her grandson’s actions but asserts they were non-malicious and driven by curiosity rather than ill intent.

According to Skellie, her grandson’s hacking occurred on three occasions, including on a school-issued laptop. While acknowledging the gravity of the situation, Skellie questions the adequacy of the school system’s cybersecurity measures, particularly given the prevalence of student-issued devices.

Skellie highlights her grandson’s autism diagnosis and argues that the school district failed to consider his unique circumstances during the tribunal process. Despite being on level 2 of the autism spectrum, Skellie contends that the district evaluated him solely on behavior without accounting for his mental health condition.

In response, a spokesperson for the Cobb County District affirmed their commitment to student safety and stated their adherence to due process and relevant laws. However, Skellie remains skeptical, raising concerns about the district’s proactive measures to prevent similar incidents and protect student data.

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Skellie’s case underscores broader questions about the intersection of cybersecurity, student behavior, and disability accommodations within educational institutions. As the debate unfolds, stakeholders are left grappling with how best to balance accountability with understanding and support for students with diverse needs.

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