- The Atlanta Board of Education has announced it will not extend Superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s contract, which expires at the end of June 2020. Community members speculated in recent months whether the board planned to replace her, and its members said in a statement that "we are at an inflection point where we must ensure long-term stability for the school system."
- In a message to the district on her personal blog, Carstarphen — who had expressed her desire to continue leading the district — said she wanted to "complete the vision and charge I was hired to achieve for the benefit of Atlanta’s children." She said despite gains in achievement since she was hired in 2014, the "work is not done" and called serving the district "the greatest honor of my professional life."
- The board communicated its decision to the superintendent in July, but didn’t want to "disrupt or overshadow the start of the new academic year," according to the board’s statement, which also acknowledged "there will be some disagreement related to this decision."
Increases in state test scores and in the district’s graduation rate are among positive developments that have been part of Carstarphen’s tenure over the past five years. Another key contribution is that she helped Atlanta Public Schools move beyond a devastating cheating scandal that led to the convictions of 11 educators and took place under former superintendent Beverly Hall, who died in 2015. Carstarphen "put the shame and controversy in the rear-view and signaled to her administrators, teachers and students to look straight ahead," wrote one editorial writer.
In a Monday radio interview, board Chairman Jason Esteves suggested the superintendent no longer had a collaborative relationship with some members of the board and that some issues date back to when she was hired in 2014. "It got to a point where it’s best to start that transition now," he said. "The board was deeply divided over this and we’ve seen that our community is divided over this as well."
Supportive of charter schools, Carstarphen had lost support among those who argue charters hurt traditional neighborhood schools. She has also been outspoken on issues such as tax incentives for development projects, suggesting such deals are taking funding away from schools.
In recent weeks, she had been participating in a series of community meetings to gather input into the district’s next strategic plan, which includes defining an “excellent school” and giving the public more information about how schools are performing.
Esteves added that the board also wants someone who will "be able to be here for the implementation of that plan and to see it through," and that a close working relationship with the board was necessary for such implementation. But Vice Chair Eshé Collins, who also participated in the interview, said she supported extending the contract and thought the disagreements between the board and the superintendent could be worked out.