APS board unanimously passes turnaround strategy

ATLANTA — There are big concerns from many parents and teachers over the Atlanta Public School Board's unanimous vote Monday night to pass a takeover strategy.

It's designed to improve struggling schools at risk of a possible state takeover.

Channel 2’s Rikki Klaus was at the meeting and said many people wore T-shirts in support of their cause. Someone printed fliers that portray the superintendent in a negative light.

Despite the opposition, all 10 board members voted for the plan.




Atlanta Public School Board members listened to an hour of public comment Monday night on the takeover strategy.

"Don't come telling us you know what's best and then you're not including us," school activist Shawnna Hayes-Tavares told the board.

Every speaker asked the board to either postpone or vote against it. They spoke of discrimination, unanswered questions and underrepresentation.

“The decision was made before they ever came in," said Dr. Sid Chapman, president of the Georgia Association of Educators.

Board members shared their mixed opinions on the plan to improve struggling schools. The room was tense, and there were some outbursts.

A reverend was escorted out of the meeting by police. Then the board voted to pass the plan, and the crowd gasped, Klaus reported.

"I was very surprised, because I don't think the people who are sitting on the dais are representing their community," Hayes-Tavares said.

The plan will shut down Bethune Elementary School, merge Connally Elementary with Venetian Hills Elementary and merge Grove Park Elementary with Woodson Elementary.

It will launch a new kindergarten-through-eighth-grade STEM Academy and partner with outside organizations to help manage some other schools.

APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said the board did the right thing.

"I think that we made the right step to not only serve our kids, who have never been educated well in the past, but also remove barriers for the future and actually reduce the risk of state takeover," Carstarphen said.

In November, Georgians will vote on the state takeover, called the Opportunity School District.

The Georgia Association of Educators is considering filing a stay in court over Monday’s decision.