Carstarphen to testify in teachers’ age-discrimination suit

APS attorneys objected to superintendent’s testimony in federal case brought by 128 older Atlanta teachers

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen is scheduled to testify Monday as part of a federal age-discrimination lawsuit that alleges the district conducted “witch-hunts” against older teachers. 

The class-action suit contends the school district penalized, terminated, or forced the retirements of about 128 experienced teachers over the age of 40 as a way to cut costs. 

The district has denied the allegations. 

Carstarphen will sit next week for a deposition,  testimony under oath, in the case despite strong objections from school district attorneys.

“It’s obviously a lot easier to get a superintendent for a Rotary Club speech than it is for a deposition,” said Lester Tate, an attorney for the plaintiffs who will take her deposition. 

APS attorneys argued the superintendent does not have relevant, unique knowledge to provide. 

The school system’s lawyers described the deposition as “a last-ditch effort to save” a “floundering case.” 

They argued in court documents that the other side has “no evidence that Superintendent Carstarphen executed a policy, pattern, or practice of age discrimination at any time during her tenure at APS.” 

A judge permitted the deposition in an order that the school district objected to but was later upheld. There are some restrictions to the deposition: It can only last four hours and must take place on familiar grounds -- either at her office of her attorney’s office. 

U.S. Magistrate Judge Walter Johnson wrote in his order that he is “sensitive to the need to protect Superintendent Carstarphen from any undue annoyance.” 

Tate said hearing directly from the district’s leader is key to the case. 

“It was somewhat startling to me to find that someone who has been such a public cheerleader and advocate … would go to such great lengths to avoid answering questions on matters of critical importance,” he said. 

The lawsuit, first filed in late 2015, contends the school district “has been attempting to replace experienced, higher-paid teachers with relatively inexperienced teachers at entry level salaries” since Carstarphen took over the top post in July of 2014. 

The plaintiffs allege in court documents that the school district conducted investigations, or “witch-hunts,” against long-serving teachers. 

The suit states that APS transferred older teachers to lower-performing schools, failed or refused to give them necessary tools to do their jobs, reprimanded them “for minor infractions,” and in some cases reassigned the teachers to “meaningless work.” 

APS spokeswoman Pat St. Claire declined to comment on the case. 

She previously released a statement saying the district has planned a vigorous defense.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Education

This Life with Gracie: Druid Hills Fulbright scholar headed to Greece
This Life with Gracie: Druid Hills Fulbright scholar headed to Greece

At the end of another school day early this month, I met Vincent Gray again in the teacher’s lounge at Druid Hills High School. It was the second time in just two years. The first time, a parent had reached out to tell me what a great teacher Gray is, the kind that not only teaches students facts, but how to think critically. After just six years...
17 Atlanta school police admit test cheating, investigator finds
17 Atlanta school police admit test cheating, investigator finds

Atlanta Public Schools is dealing with another cheating investigation. A quarter of the police officers in the district’s recently sworn-in force admitted receiving answers on a state-administered test. Disciplinary proceedings are coming for at least 18 employees. One dispatcher allegedly fed answers to 17 officers while they took the open-book...
Emory University to offer free tuition to some students from Puerto Rico
Emory University to offer free tuition to some students from Puerto Rico

Emory University announced Friday it will allow nearly three dozen eligible students who’ve had their studies interrupted by last summer’s hurricane damage to Puerto Rico to study here for free next semester. The 32 students will also receive application fee waivers and expedited processing. Those accepted will be able to enroll in credit-bearing...
Who got into University of Georgia today?
Who got into University of Georgia today?

From UGA: Nearly 15,000 students applied for early action admission to the University of Georgia’s Class of 2022, bringing record academic qualifications to the birthplace of public higher education. This year more than 8,000 students are being offered early action admission to UGA, and their average GPA of 4.11 reflects ...
Pulling both ends of the rope on campus free speech
Pulling both ends of the rope on campus free speech

College students, including those on Georgia campuses, are battling for free speech, challenging school administrators on limits to protests and demonstrations. At the same time, students can be the first in line to try to shut down speakers they don’t like. Witness what happened to Ann Coulter at Berkeley earlier this...
More Stories