City vote on school deeds delayed while ‘due diligence’ takes place

5:57 p.m Friday, Jan. 26, 2018 Atlanta Education News
Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms promised to turn deeds to school properties over to Atlanta Public Schools. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

A final city decision to transfer disputed deeds to Atlanta Public Schools will be delayed while legal “due diligence” work is done.

Officials had anticipated that the Atlanta City Council could vote Feb. 5 on a resolution to give APS deeds to 50 school properties it has sought to obtain from the city. The legislation now is expected to be considered again at the finance executive committee Feb. 14 meeting, according to Melissa Mullinax, senior advisor to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. 

Mullinax, in a written statement, said that the city’s law department is completing “its due diligence on all the properties” and that conversations between APS and the city “are productive and ongoing.” Work to be done includes property surveys and signatures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said Matt Westmoreland, an Atlanta councilman who serves on the finance executive committee and previously sat on the school board.

Bottoms pledged during her campaign to give the school system deeds to school properties on her first day in office, but to do so requires city council approval. APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen told Atlanta legislators during a Friday meeting that there are 33 deeds “that could be transferred tomorrow,” and as to the remaining ones, she said, “I am willing to continue to investigate.”