No mention of ousted superintendent at APS Board meeting

Accusations of systemic racism within Atlanta Public Schools grow after superintendent's ousting.
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 11:24 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - At Monday’s meeting of the Atlanta Public School Board, there was no mention of current superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring’s contract.

Just three days prior to the meeting, the school board members sitting within just feet of her had failed to renew it.

Dr. Herring sat front and center at Monday’s meeting nonetheless, never indicating that she would leave her post before the June 30, 2024 expiration of her current agreement with the school.

The APS Board has still yet to indicate why Dr. Herring’s contract was not renewed. A petition calling for her ouster claims it’s due to low reading and math performance, poor graduation rates, and lack of resources for students with disabilities.

But in a statement to Atlanta News First, Dr. Herring claimed precisely the opposite, saying the graduating class of 2022 yielded the highest graduation rate in the history of APS at 84%.

“In December of 2022, I received my last performance evaluation and satisfactory feedback with emphasis on the focus of additional engagement and stronger communications efforts,” read Dr. Herring’s statement. “I have worked diligently to honor the work and expectations of our board and community. My work has remained laser focused on the success of our incredible scholars, our dedicated professionals who lead in and outside the classroom and our countless champions who continue to propel APS to greater heights.”

Herring, who was hired in 2020 and led the state’s sixth largest district through the COVID-19 pandemic, said she was still “strong and present” in her work as superintendent. The announcement caught education advocates off guard Friday.

“What we want to get down to the bottom of is why did the board make the decision that they made, and what do they intend to happen? Do they have a plan for what’s going to happen next?” said Anthony Wilson, executive director of the group Equality in Education. “I think she needed more help. She needed more support and more guidance.”

Wilson acknowledges there are performance issues at APS, but put the onus more on the board than Dr. Herring, saying they needed to do more with their $1.4 billion budget.

APS has around 50,000 students, and over 70% of the student body is Black.

“So it’s really important that we have people who look and are from the places where our kids are from, who are able to write policy and legislation that gets them what they need,” said Wilson. “We need to have real answers so the community itself can plan, because when the leadership fails, the community still has to be there for ourselves and each other and we need the truth in order to be able to act.”