Jacob Bigham, Student Punished for Revealing School's Altered Election Results, Seeks to Undo Discipline

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A boy from Fullerton, California who faced suspension from school after revealing a student election was altered is seeking to undo the discipline he's received. According to OC Register, Jacob Bigham, 17, broke into Troy High School's database and discovered that his teacher had changed the election results. 

After revealing to the school that the election had been altered, Bigham was quickly stripped of his student government post and given a five-day suspension sentence for hacking into the school database. 

Jenny Redmond, the student government faculty adviser who altered the results, continued to teach the student government class for the remainder of the year.

Four months later, Bigham and his parents are asking the Fullerton Joint Union High School District to consider ridding his record of the five-day suspension and reinstating him as student-body vice president this fall. 

Bigham had been driven to look into the school database after he and his classmates suspected Redmond had changed the votes. He felt the only real way to find out was to look at the raw data for the election. Bigham discovered that he and his peers were right, as the student-body president and vice president for the 2012-13 school year didn't receive the most votes. 

On Tuesday, he produced a speech to explain his discipline reversal request to the school board. In it, he said he was "disappointed and saddened" that he'd become the high school's scapegoat. He also said his grades have slipped and he has experience great emotional turmoil over the situation. 

"I hope that, even if not now, at the very least we can take more care of students like me who, had anyone looked at my grades and saw my grades were slipping, maybe something could have been done," Bigham said. "I guess that didn't really matter until after, when it could be used against me instead of to help me." 

The emotionally-charged speech didn't receive any responses from district officials until it was over, when they pulled him aside to talk privately. 

District trustee Marilyn Buchi, after the meeting, said, "I think elections are sacred, I don't think anyone should tinker with an election." 

Superintendent George Giokaris said that he could not comment on Redmond, as it would violate employee privacy, but did confirm that they were going to reevaluate the situation and were talking to Bigham about his request for discipline reversal. 

Redmond was absent from Tuesday's meeting and declined to comment on the matter. 

She has resigned from teaching the student-government class, but remains an employee of the district by teaching special education. 

It was likely that Redmond hadn't been disciplined for the matter, as the Register filed a request with public records to see all documentation on any employee who received discipline for the incident. The school district said it didn't have any records for the event. 

Bigham is an honors student and wants to attend UC Berkeley next year. While the situation has caused his grades to drop, he has no regrets over what he did. 

One of Bigham's biggest supporters, Gilbert Nelson, a parent of one student at the school, said, "He was a whistleblower and the victim of voter fraud. If no action is taken and the Bighams grant me permission, I'll go viral on the Internet and we will take this to YouTube. I will set up a legal defense fund and I will file a third-person complaint against the ASB adviser."

Bigham's father said the high schoolers will be old enough to vote soon. "What message are we sending?" he asked. 

State assemblyman Chris Norby, R-Fullerton said the district trustees must take action to ensure the incident wouldn't be repeated.

"The way this was structured, the teacher suffered a temptation to alter the results of the election," Norby's aide, Chris Nguyen, told trustees. "Send a message that democracy should be respected, whether at the school level, the county, state or federal level." 

This week, the superintendent said they had already begun to clarify its by-laws that student-voting results must be honored. He also stated that the student-government officers will rewrite their own constitutions. 

"We will be making recommendations for board policies ASAP," Giokaris said. "We need to ensure this never happens again." 


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