Atlanta’s next education leader, Meria Carstarphen, sees herself as the visionary who can turn around urban public education, restore trust with parents and move the city’s school system past the stain of a cheating scandal.
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Staff writer Wayne Washington contributed to this article.
ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The district is one of the largest in Georgia:
- 50,000 students
- 7,000 employees, mostly teachers
- 95 schools
- $658 million budget next school year
METRO ATLANTA 2013 SUPERINTENDENT SALARIES
Erroll Davis, Atlanta, $258,837
Michael Hinojosa, Cobb County, $247,625
Michael Thurmond, DeKalb County, $275,000
Robert Avossa, Fulton County, $315,587
J. Alvin Wilbanks, Gwinnett County, $503,623
Meria Carstarphen, Atlanta’s superintendent finalist. Salary hasn’t been announced. She makes $283,412 as superintendent in Austin, Texas.
Source: http://open.georgia.gov/ and AJC archives
1999: Beverly Hall — hired as superintendent from the Newark, N.J., school system — becomes the fifth superintendent of Atlanta schools in 10 years.
2008: An investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first raises questions about suspect scores on the state Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.
2009: Hall named National Superintendent of the Year, based largely on improved standardized test scores.
November 2010: Hall announces she plans to resign.
June 2011: Hall retires, making way for Erroll Davis, who previously served as chancellor of the University System of Georgia, to take over as superintendent on July 1.
July 2011: In Davis’ first week on the job, a state investigation finds widespread cheating occurred on standardized tests under Hall’s leadership. The investigation said 185 Atlanta Public Schools employees participated in cheating, including Hall. She denies any knowledge of cheating.
March 2013: A grand jury indicts Hall and 34 other former Atlanta school employees based on allegations they participated in a conspiracy to artificially inflate standardized test results.
April 2013: Atlanta school system launches nationwide superintendent search.
August 2013: The city school board hires a partnership of BoardWalk Consulting and Diversified Search to handle the search at a cost of $146,000, replacing Proact Search because of concerns about the company’s ability to find the best candidate.
October 2013: Mayor Kasim Reed suggests using private money to more than double the next superintendent’s salary to about $600,000.
March 27, 2014: Atlanta Board of Education announces Meria Carstarphen, the superintendent in Austin, Texas, is the lone finalist for the superintendent job. Her pay hasn’t been announced.
Mid-April: Atlanta school board will likely vote to hire Carstarphen.
May: A trial is expected to begin for Hall and 12 other defendants facing charges related to the cheating scandal. Twenty-one defendants have pleaded guilty.
Late spring/summer: Carstarphen will likely take over as superintendent; Davis retires.
ABOUT MERIA CARSTARPHEN
- Superintendent, Austin (Texas) Independent School District, 2009 to 2014
- Superintendent, Saint Paul (Minn.) Public Schools, 2006 to 2009
- Chief Accountability Officer, District of Columbia Public Schools, 2004 to 2006
- Executive director for comprehensive school improvement and accountability, Kingsport (Tenn.) City Schools, 2003 to 2004
- Special assistant to the superintendent, Columbus (Ohio) Public Schools, 1999 to 2001
- Middle school teacher in Selma, Ala.