No photo

On Sept. 9, the Atlanta school board met in secret and voted not to extend Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's contract, which expires June 30, 2020.

Carstarphen's ouster divided the city and sparked widespread condemnation of the school board for holding a secret majority vote by a public body. Parents called into local radio shows to express their outrage over Carstarphen's ouster.

Carstarphen's forced departure made national news.

As Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, Carstarphen (pictured left) led the district's nearly 52,000 students, 6,000 full-time employees and 87 schools and oversaw the system’s $1 billion annual budget.

Verdaillia Turner, educator and president of 1,700-member Atlanta Federation of Teachers, says the Atlanta school board should be "transparent" in its search for a replacement for Carstarphen.

In a guest column published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Turner said the school board should listen to the advice of educators rather than business interests that played a key role in selecting Carstarphen.

She accused the APS of entering into long-term contracts with companies and organizations that favor privatization under the banner of charter schools.

And she urged the APS to choose a superintendent who believes in public education.

"Hiring a superintendent is a monumental task and the Atlanta Board of Education should learn from the recent past to avoid pitfalls that could have serious ramifications for the future of the school system," she writes.

"Atlanta Public Schools needs a superintendent who will implement models that have been proven to work, such as the Community Schools approach that emphasizes meeting the whole family’s needs, real family engagement, community partnerships, and wrap-around services.

She added: "In a city such as Atlanta where most students suffer from poverty, this model is especially needed. A recent study identified Atlanta as the city with the least economic mobility for poor children."

Turner also criticized the school board for selecting Carstarphen, a Tulane and Auburn graduate, who has little teaching experience.

"Shouldn't a superintendent have spent time in the classroom interacting with students, parents, and other teachers?" she wrote.

Atlanta public schools are among the lowest performing schools in the nation. The Atlanta school district is still digging out from under the teacher cheating scandal of 2009.

Top teachers and principals in the Atlanta Public Schools were arrested for cheating on state-administered standardized tests. The teachers have since been released from prison.