Atlanta school board approves name for new Midtown elementary campus

An Atlanta elementary school slated to open in August now has a name: Virginia-Highland Elementary School.

The Atlanta Board of Education on Monday approved the name recommended weeks ago by an Atlanta Public Schools committee. The group suggested a place-based name marking the school’s location on Virginia Avenue in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood.

Several people involved in creating the new school’s parent-teacher organization urged the board to finalize the decision so that they can complete legal paperwork to establish nonprofit status and start raising money.

“We are really in need of a name to even begin,” said Lisl Huber, of the parent group’s efforts.

The site is the location of the former Inman Middle School, which closed in 2020 when the nearby David T. Howard Middle School building reopened after a $52 million renovation.

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The new school has gotten off to a rocky start.

Its very creation, approved by the board in August, was contentious partly because it will require rezoning hundreds of students from highly regarded nearby elementary campuses. APS officials said the new school was needed to alleviate overcrowding in Midtown-area schools.

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APS also struggled to hire a principal to lead the new school.

Superintendent Lisa Herring withdrew her first recommendation after parents expressed concerns about the candidate’s work history. Then, criticisms over the district’s hiring process prompted an APS investigation that resulted in the discharge of a human resources director who had been responsible for screening principal candidates.

Herring ultimately decided to move Terry Harness, principal of Springdale Park Elementary School, over to the new school. The board on Monday confirmed Harness’ appointment, effective Oct. 26, as part of a routine staffing report.