APS deeds aren’t returned as mayor takes office


Atlanta Public Schools sent Keisha Lance Bottoms a list of 50 properties whose deeds the city holds, which the new mayor promised during her campaign to turn over “on day one.”

But she was sworn in Tuesday without the transfer taking place, prompting the school district to address the missed deadline and the highly anticipated move to end the long deed dispute between the city and school district.

“Atlanta Public Schools was hopeful that Mayor Lance Bottoms would honor her campaign promise to quitclaim the remaining 50 deeds to Atlanta Public Schools’ properties that are in the city’s possession. She was provided all the necessary documents to complete this action. We look forward to the mayor releasing these deeds with no restrictions to APS. Completing this action on schedule would have signaled a new start to a promising relationship between the City of Atlanta and Atlanta Public Schools,” said the statement, released Wednesday by spokesman Ian Smith.

In her inauguration speech, Bottoms reiterated her commitment to resolve the issue. And at a press conference, she said she didn’t have the authority to act alone, and that she planned to “immediately” work with the school district, city council, and the law department.

The mayor’s press secretary Jenna Garland on Wednesday referenced that response from the mayor and said there were no additional updates to the situation.

Smith said the school district provided Bottoms with the information just before the holidays. The materials included a draft ordinance and a list of 50 remaining properties whose deeds the school district does not have in its control.

The deeds must be transferred via a city ordinance, which requires a city council vote, Smith said.

“We obviously want to be supportive, and we hope that we are able to get this accomplished,” he said Tuesday.

The city held onto some deeds to school properties after it separated from the school district in the 1970s. APS butted heads with Bottoms’ predecessor, Kasim Reed, over the deeds.

In 2015, the school district sued for deeds to four properties it no longer needed and that it wanted to sell. Reed wanted redeveloped properties with multifamily housing to include affordable units, and the school district ultimately approved a related affordable housing policy.

Court documents indicate the city has transferred at least four properties to the school district. APS still seeks deeds to 50 properties scattered throughout the city. The mix includes surplus sites and properties in use.

The list sent to Bottoms includes Garden Hills Elementary School, a historic neoclassical designed school that serves Buckhead students; Ralph J. Bunche Middle School on Niskey Lake Road SW, and Therrell High School on Panther Trail SW.

A breakdown of how many of the 50 properties are surplus or for sale was not available Wednesday, according to Smith.



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