Lisa Herring has officially been appointed as the new superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. The Atlanta Board of Education voted to hire Herring at a special called virtual meeting May 11.
The decision was not unanimous, with Nancy Meister of Buckhead’s District 4 casting the lone dissenting vote.
Herring’s three year contract will begin July 1, but she will have a consulting role with APS as she transitions from superintendent of Birmingham City Schools to Atlanta.
Board Chairman Jason Esteves said current superintendent, Meria Carstarphen, would remain in charge through June 30. The goal is to ensure a continuity of service so there is no disruption of service,” Esteves said.
“I’m grateful for your vote of confidence,” Herring told the board after the vote. “I understand that these are times when many may pause and have curiosity or anxiety around this transition. I want to balance that with some reassurance. I will bring steadfast leadership focused on transition through and out of the pandemic while keeping our scholars and families in mind first.”
The decision not to extend Carstarphen’s contract after six years has been a source of contention with the community and inside the school board itself. Meister said she believed the board was being “careless” in its decision to not renew Carstarphen’s contract during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Great things have happened for our kids and great things continue to happen,” Meister said of Carstarphen’s tenure. “It’s my opinion that we’re making a change for change sake. And we’re doing it at the worst possible time. In the middle of a pandemic, it’s a poor choice and lacks thoughtfulness for the parents of Atlanta and Birmingham.”
Herring addressed the pandemic transition concerns in a May 5 virtual town hall for the North Atlanta Cluster.
Those who championed Carstarphen cited her leadership in turning APS’s reputation around after the standardized test cheating scandal rocked the city, for boosting morale, and improved test scores. On the other hand, the Atlanta Federation of Teachers vilified Carstarphen’s move to outsource the daily operations of six underperforming schools to charter school groups.
Herring will make an annual base salary of $320,000, plus $2,000 a month for expenses.