ATLANTA — Dr. Meria Carstarphen is responding to the news of her future with Atlanta Public Schools in a letter, writing that although she feels she will not get to finish the work she started, she is still proud of the work that's been done so far.
On Monday, Sept. 9., the APS school board announced they would not be renewing Carstarphen's contract after it expires on June 30 of next year.
Carstarphen was hired to the position by a unanimous vote in 2014 and oversaw major changes and, recently, consolidations in one of the largest school systems in the state.
In the letter, she called serving the children of Atlanta Public Schools the "greatest honor of my professional life."
Last year, Carstarphen was named Georgia Superintendent of the Year by the American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees and the Georgia Federation of Public Service Employees. She was also a 2018 National Public Relations Association Communication Technology Award for Superintendents Award recipient.
The school board also noted her efforts over the years that helped repair "many of the issues that plagued our school system a decade ago."
In her letter, Carstarphen said she sees the progress made in the school system, but said the work is not done.
"The disparity in educational outcomes for Atlanta’s children has been intergenerational and systemic. The solutions are not easy, which is why I so passionately wanted to stay and finish the job I was hired to do," she wrote.
Read the full letter from Carstarphen below:
My Beloved APS Colleagues:
It is with great sadness that I must inform you that the Atlanta Board of Education this morning decided to launch a search for a new superintendent. Serving the children of Atlanta Public Schools in this role – and working alongside each of you – has been the greatest honor of my professional life.
As I have expressed for the past few months, I had a sincere desire for a contract extension so that our team and I could complete the vision and charge I was hired to achieve for the benefit of Atlanta’s children: Rebuild and restore trust in Atlanta Public Schools and position it for the future, especially after the largest cheating scandal in the history of public education.
I’ve always been committed to working diligently and collaboratively to achieve the District’s goals and our mission to prepare every student for college and career. I feel we are well on that path. In fact, APS has made great progress from rising graduation rates to higher test scores to increased autonomy and resources for our schools.
I love hard. I work passionately. And when necessary, I fight for you and Atlanta’s children. I have always done what I believed to be right. I've always worked conscientiously to execute our mission and vision. And I have always had the belief that, despite challenges we have faced, we have always been able to come together and take actions in the best interests of children. For that, I am really proud of all of us.
The disparity in educational outcomes for Atlanta’s children has been intergenerational and systemic. The solutions are not easy, which is why I so passionately wanted to stay and finish the job I was hired to do.
The Atlanta community entrusts its children and its hard-earned tax dollars to us. We owe it to our community to continue to get up each day and show up for our children. I am incredibly humbled by the support and grateful for our community of students, caregivers, principals, teachers, staff, alumni and partners who have been so supportive of the work we have done.
I’ve said many times: I love Atlanta … I believe in Atlanta. I believe in you, and I believe our team will continue to get the job done for children. Despite progress and gains, this work is not done.
As hard as it is sometimes, given the challenges inside and outside of the system, I do love my job and want to work to ensure that Atlanta has a homegrown educated workforce. I’ve made Atlanta my home, and there is still so much more work to be done. We have come a long way since the dark days of scandal, and I hope we can continue the progress.
Our children need all of us — the Board and Superintendent, along with the community — to fight for them and to be their voice to have the best chance at choice-filled lives.
With much love, respect and hugs,