APS superintendent speaks publicly for the first time about leaving position

ATLANTA — Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen spoke to the Atlanta Press Club at its annual newsmaker luncheon Thursday.

Carstarphen has been in her role since 2014. APS recently announced it will not renew her contract past June of next year.

Carstarphen had not spoken publicly about leaving her role -- until Thursday.

Channel 2's Tyisha Fernandes was at the meeting, where Carstarphen took questions about the end of her term.


"For me, it's always been about completing the mission to do what we originally started to do," Carstarphen said.

When Carstarphen took the job as APS superintendent, she knew that the district was troubled. She said she also knew she could put strategies in place to turn it around.

"When I came here over five years ago, APS was not delivering on any educational purpose," Carstarphen said. "I inherited a district, exposed by a cheating scandal, that was a structure failure."

There are 52,000 students in Atlanta Public Schools and many parents and staff members have told Channel 2 Action News they believe Carstarphen is the best person to lead the district.

Carstarphen said she had every indication from the board that she was improving the district in many ways.

"I’ve been here five years and I’ve had five evaluations. All of them met and exceeded board expectations," Carstarphen said. "There was never any indication that there was something else that needed to be addressed."

When the board first made the announcement about letting Carstarphen go a month ago, Fernandes caught up with board Chair Jason Esteves.

He wouldn't say why the board made the decision, but did infer that there was a lack of collaboration between Carstarphen and the board and that she was not the person to lead APS into the future.

"The board has changed over time and with that change, opinions and divisions over leadership have changed," Esteves said at that time.

Many are now wondering where Carstarphen will go when her contract is up in June. She said she has not spent any time thinking about her next step because she still has months of work to do with APS.