The sudden exodus in February of Dan Durbin, Beaufort High School's popular principal, continues to be a teachable moment for the community.
Durbin resigned in lieu of imminent dismissal after acknowledging he changed 200 grades for 33 students over two years.
That was a violation of Beaufort County School District policy, even though Durbin said he changed the grades to motivate students to stay in school and did not do it unilaterally. Superintendent Valerie Truesdale moved to end his nine-year tenure immediately. That was the right choice.
It should have taught important lessons to the school's 1,450 students and the full community that rules apply to everyone, that choices have consequences and there will be accountability for those choices.
Another lesson came last week when Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone said Durbin would not be charged with a crime for changing the grades.
Truesdale and others had said that Durbin violated the law.
But Durbin was not charged with a crime, nor convicted of one.
All of us should learn from this that decisions on the law are left to the criminal justice system and until that system rules no one should assign guilt.
It is easy to see how lay people can read a state law that states 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 and presume the law has been broken. It seems obvious, but it's not.
And that's exactly why the school district turned over its data and research on the matter to the solicitor. That was the right thing to do.
From there, Stone did what he routinely does -- he turned it over to a law enforcement agency to investigate. In this case, the State Law Enforcement Division investigated and returned its findings to the solicitor.
Stone studied the SLED report and determined the law had not been violated because the case lacked criminal intent. Investigators found no evidence that the former principal benefited financially from the grade changes, or that he gained professionally by changing grades to meet or enhance contractual expectations. He made no effort to hide the fact that he changed grades.
Stone said he routinely faces this question: Why did it happen? He said there was no question the grades were changed, but that a key part of America's system of justice requires him to determine why. With very few exceptions, criminal intent must be established
The system also provides for different levels of criminal intent to be assessed, and that can influence the charge and what the judge or jury must take into account in deciding guilt or innocence.
Lay people don't consider these things on a daily basis, so it might seem odd. But we should all take comfort that American justice in most cases requires two elements -- "culpable action" and "culpable mind" -- to establish the guilt of a defendant.
In this case, the system arrived at a judgment on Durbin. The school district did what it should have done. So did the solicitor and SLED. The state Board of Education, which licenses educators, may yet rule on that aspect of the situation. But the rest of us should move on, trusting that our justice system works and knowing that important lessons have been learned.