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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.

Jason Miller/Getty Images

NBA superstar LeBron James opened his first elementary school for at-risk students in his hometown of Akron, Ohio on Monday, July 30. "If we get to them early enough, we can hopefully keep them on the right track to a bigger and brighter future for themselves and their families,” the father-of-3 said at a press conference in the school's temporary building on Monday, July 30.

I Promise School

The school serves 240 of Akron's most academically challenged students. The students were chosen from a random pool of underachieving 3rd and 4th graders with the lowest marks on aptitude tests.

Akron's biggest success story missed 83 days of school in the 4th grade. LeBron's dream is to give the children something he never had growing up: a quality education and to know that someone cares.

"This school is so important to me because our vision is to create a place for the kids in Akron who need it most -- those that could fall through the cracks if we don’t do something,” he said.

The I Promise school is part of Akron Public Schools. The district paid $2.9 million out of its general fund for the landscaping, furniture, teacher's salaries, books, and other essentials. The LeBron James Family foundation pays for everything else, including 4 extra teachers to allow for smaller classrooms.

The school is housed in a temporary building owned by the district. The walls are lined with LeBron's game worn shoes and inspirational quotes by LeBron.

I Promise School principal Brandi Davis

LeBron tapped educator Brandi Davis to be the school's first principal. By 2022, the school will have 1,000 students in 1st through eighth grades.

The students, who began their first day on Monday, were given clothing, jackets, bicycles, helmets, as well as free breakfast, lunch and snacks. And a food pantry is set up in the school for children who don't have enough food at home.

Students who live over 2 miles away get free transportation to and from school.

If the students graduate, a college education awaits them at the University of Akron.

Education begins at home, so the students' parents are offered job placement and the opportunity to continue their education or earn their high school diplomas, ESPN reports.

“We want every kid who walks through this school to be inspired,” James told CNN. “To come away with something. Something where they can give back and it doesn’t matter -- it could be anything, but just for kids, in general, all they want to know is that someone cares. And when they walk through that door, I hope they know that someone cares.”

 

 

The kid from Akron with his kids from Akron. #IPROMISE #WeAreFamily

A post shared by I PROMISE School (@ipromiseschool) on

 

Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

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