Will Keresztes, an associate Buffalo school superintendent, has been cleared by the Board of Education's Commission on Ethics of an allegation that he forced a change in the City Honors School grading system that resulted in national recognition for his daughter.
In addition, the decision said, a report from City Honors Principal William A. Kresse that sparked the allegation "contains numerous inconsistencies, inaccuracies and misstatements of fact."
In that report, dated Dec. 19, 2007, Kresse said Keresztes asked a school counselor why his daughter, then a City Honors student, had not qualified for a national Hispanic Recognition award from the College Board.
After being told that her grade-point average was not high enough, Kresse said, Keresztes pushed successfully for the school to return to a previous grading system that gives greater weighted value to advanced courses and produces higher grade-point averages for some students.
The revised grading system increased the GPA for Keresztes' daughter and qualified her for the award, Kresse said.
But a three-page ruling by the ethics board said the grade change for Keresztes' daughter "simply corrected an admitted mistake in arithmetic" and was not related to the larger issue of the schoolwide grading policy. In addition, the report said, the grade change "did not yield any material benefit to the student or her parents."
Instead, Keresztes' involvement in the broader grading issue "was prompted by concerns raised by several parents of City Honors students because of a change initiated by [Kresse] without parental or district input or involvement," the report said.
While clearing Keresztes of unethical conduct, the commission, chaired by John Calvin Davis, said, "It is important to reiterate to all district personnel that great effort must be taken by all to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
"Thus," the decision said, "the prudent course of action may be to [excuse] oneself from any matter that could potentially impact a family member, even if no material benefit could result."
Keresztes could not be reached to comment.
Richard D. Furlong, an attorney who represented Kresse, said the decision was biased.
"As far as I'm concerned, this ruling is nothing but a whitewash," he said.
Catherine Nugent-Panepinto, the North District Board of Education member who requested the ethics commission investigation, said the panel did not spell out the testimony or evidence on which the conclusions are based.
She said she will explore a possible appeal and request copies of any transcripts that might be available.
"Although I respect the people on the commission, I think they got it wrong," Panepinto said. "I think everything in [Kresse's] report was accurate."
Kresse's report was obtained by The Buffalo News through other sources last April.
It also alleged that Christopher Jacobs, an at-large Board of Education member, applied pressure to have the daughter of Bruce L. Fisher -- then deputy county executive -- admitted to City Honors.
The ethics board ruled in October that there was "no reasonable cause" to believe that Jacobs violated the district's ethics code.e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org