SLED closes case; former Beaufort principal Durbin won't be charged

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comJuly 17, 2012 

Dan Durbin

RACHEL HEATON

Former Beaufort High School principal Dan Durbin will not be charged with a crime for changing students' grades.

Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone said in a statement Tuesday that he could not prove criminal intent in the grade changes. That would have been necessary to charge Durbin, who resigned in late February after admitting to changing 200 grades for 33 Beaufort High School students.

Attempts Tuesday to reach Durbin were unsuccessful.

The Beaufort County School District referred the case and data related to the grade changes to the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office. Stone then turned it over to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division.

Superintendent Valerie Truesdale had characterized Durbin's grade changes as a violation of the law in late February during a meeting to explain his resignation to Beaufort High parents.

Falsifying or altering a high school transcript is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of as much as $1,000, one year in prison or both, according to S.C. Code 16-13-15.

Stone said there's no question that Durbin changed the grades and that he violated school district policy, however, he determined there's no evidence of criminal intent based on SLED's investigation.

"We have said previously that we did not believe there was malicious intent, so we are not surprised Solicitor Stone found no evidence of criminal intent," Truesdale said Tuesday.

Stone's statement said there's no evidence that Durbin benefited financially from the changes, or that he had malicious intent in changing them. His contract was not contingent on student grades, and he made no effort to hide the fact that he was changing the grades, the statement says.

"I think it's poor judgment, but that's not the purpose of criminal statutes," Stone said. "Criminal statutes require malicious intent."

Durbin's case also has been sent to the S.C. Department of Education. That office has not confirmed or denied an investigation.

Finding from any investigation would be presented to the state school board's Educator Certification Committee, which could choose to revoke or suspend Durbin's teaching certification. That hearing would be open only if Durbin chose for it to be.

A spokesman for the S.C. Department of Education said Tuesday that public records do not show that the state board has issued any judgment on Durbin.

Truesdale said that the transcripts of the 33 students affected by the grade changes had been corrected. School district spokesman Jim Foster said that where applicable, updated transcripts were sent to colleges and the military. Any effect Durbin's changing of 214 grades had on class rank was negligible, Foster said.

Related content

  1. SLED to investigate grade changes at Beaufort High; March 8, 2012
  2. School district releases data on Beaufort High principal's grade changes; March 6, 2012
  3. Parents demand answers following Durbin's resignation; Feb. 27, 2012
  4. VIDEO: Durbin's resignation from Beaufort High prompts outpour of support; Feb. 24, 2012
  5. Beaufort High principal says he changed grades to help students; Feb. 23, 2012

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