Carstarphen dismissal surprises, remains vague



APS Superintendent, Dr. Meria Carstarphen, led a meeting on the proposed rezoning of approximately 100 students from the Grady cluster to the North Atlanta cluster to alleviate overcrowding at Morningside Elementary on Tuesday Nov. 28.

Editorial Board

The Atlanta Board of Education’s decision not to extend Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen’s contract came as a surprise to many in the Grady community.

According to statements by board members and Dr. Carstarphen, reasons for the decision were foggy and may remain that way. Some board members who voted against Dr. Carstarphen praised her work, but also claimed there were collaboration problems from the beginning of her term in 2014. They made no mention of these problems until after their decision was final on Sept. 9.

Dr. Carstarphen defended herself on Sept. 10, telling WABE Radio’s Rose Scott that every board meeting was “very professional” and that her dismissal was not about “performance.” The Atlanta Board of Education own’s WABE’s broadcast license.

Grady students and faculty knew the superintendent to be encouraging, enthusiastic and involved. A few days before the school board’s decision, Dr. Carstarphen visited and participated in a Grady football practice.

At Grady, her efforts resulted in free tickets for sophomores to see the musical “Hamilton” and free school meals. Across Atlanta Public Schools, she successfully shifted focus away from the nationally-known 2009 cheating scandal and raised test scores and graduation rates.

A lack of transparency from the school board makes it difficult to know what motivated Dr. Carstarphen’s dismissal. Some opposed her efforts to increase charter schools, and one parent activist and former board candidate said Dr. Carstarphen didn’t address low literacy rates soon enough.

But without a definite statement from the school board, regrettable politics seem the most likely reason Dr. Carstarphen was pushed out.