Ex-principal accused of grade-changing leaves APS

Updated:

BEST Academy High School parents Margaret McBride and Valery Irvin tell Channel 2's Richard Belcher teachers had whispered to them about accusations against a former principal before he quit the district.

ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned that a former Atlanta high school principal resigned this month in the face of extensive charges of grade-changing.
   
A school spokesman said the system won't tolerate any kind of cheating, but two parents told Channel 2’s Richard Belcher the misconduct was obvious long before the principal was moved.

Boris Hurst was removed as principal at BEST Academy High School in west Atlanta long before he was charged. He was transferred to another position within the district but quit two weeks ago. The charges against him fill four pages, and two parents said they knew all about it.

“When we saw the charges, when I saw it I felt, ‘Wow, finally, the truth is really out in the open,'” BEST parent Margaret McBride told Belcher.

She and another parent, Valery Irvin, said parents knew what was going on at BEST in part because teachers whispered to them about the principal.

The whispers were aimed at Boris Hurst, principal of BEST until a year ago. The school system filed 51 charges against him in January. Among the accusations were that he required staff members to change grades from failing to passing and that he berated, bullied and threatened staff to change grades.
   
Irvin said the principal ignored criticism.

“Mr. Hurst, these boys can't read.  Mr. Hurst, these boys can't add and subtract. Mr. Hurst, these boys are failing,” Irvin said.

But she said the principal’s attitude was, “I don't care. You're going to pass these boys.”

The all-boys school will graduate its first seniors in a year. Irvin and McBride said the alleged widespread cheating encouraged by the school's first principal affected everyone, including their own sons.

“My son is not OK when he sees others are being, you know, passing, or they're going to events or they're being a spokesmodel for BEST academy, and they are not doing their homework,” Irvin said.

McBride said parents complained as far back as late 2010 when Beverly Hall was still school superintendent. Irvin said senior Atlanta Public School officials would tip off the principal about their complaints.

Channel 2 Action News was unable to reach Hurst for comment.

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