Report: APS principal gave special treatment to select students

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has learned that school investigators say an Atlanta high school principal violated state ethical standards by giving special treatment to selected students.
 
Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher learned one teacher testified the principal pressured her to pass students who were failing.  
 
Belcher previously uncovered findings of academic misconduct by principals at two other APS High schools -- Darian Jones of Carver Health and Boris Hurst of BEST Academy.
 
A new report depicts a school where the principal took extraordinary and unethical steps to ensure good grades for a few students.
 
The high school is Booker T. Washington High School,which was honored with a visit from first lady Michelle Obama earlier in the month.
 
Charcia Nichols was the principal of Washington's School of Banking, Finance and Investment for five years.
 
APS says she resigned at the end of the past school year when she learned she would not be reappointed as a principal.

On her final day, she was interviewed by investigators who assembled the findings against her in a 27-page report, which Channel 2 Action News has now obtained.
 
They concluded that Nichols violated APS policies and state ethical standards governing honesty and professional conduct by educators.
 
Testimony from four teachers who worked for Nichols said:

  • Students were graded based on attendance and not content.
  • (Teachers) felt pressured to pass students who were failing.
  • Didn't feel like she could challenge what her supervisor was asking her to do in a questionable internship program.
  • Nichols did give preferential treatment to students.

"There's a new administration in Atlanta Public Schools and that we're about change," APS associate superintendent Timothy Gadson offered in response to the findings, without discussing specifics about the Nichols case.           
 
Gadson told Belcher that APS teachers should not feel pressured to change grades and he'll be monitoring reports of grade changes.
 
"We're looking at semester and quarterly grades or failure reports, and if there are grade change requests that come in after that a significant number in any one school, we would look at that," Gadson said. 
 
Nichols is now a middle school principal in Social Circle in Walton County.
 
Her attorney sent Channel 2 Action News a letter which reads in part, "We vehemently disagree with the findings of the investigation."
 
The attorney calls the investigation malicious and erroneous, and says Nichols does not rule out filing a lawsuit against APS.