Atlanta school board gives contract extension to superintendent

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent  Lisa Herring received a one-year contract extension on Monday. Miguel Martinez/AJC FILE PHOTO
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Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Herring received a one-year contract extension on Monday. Miguel Martinez/AJC FILE PHOTO

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Board of Education voted 8-1 to grant a one-year contract extension to Superintendent Lisa Herring and thanked her for her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Herring left the top job in the Birmingham, Alabama, school system to come to Atlanta Public Schools in July 2020. Her initial three-year contract, the longest allowed by state law, expired June 30, 2023.

Monday’s vote means the agreement now runs through June 30, 2024.

“Dr. Herring is someone who is genuine, honest and holds herself accountable. And she has and continues to do great work that will improve student achievement both academically and (for) children as a whole,” said board Chairman Jason Esteves, who said her accomplishments occurred “despite the significant challenges of this pandemic.”

Esteves said the board recognizes “the need to improve” communication and engagement with families and community members. That’s been a frequent refrain during the recent school board election campaigns, as candidates called for more transparency and parent input in district decisions.

Herring said she’s “committed to getting it right for the children we serve” and said she looks forward to improving outreach and communications. She also thanked the board for its “bold and candid and supportive leadership.”

“I just want to express my appreciation for having the opportunity to step into this role just a little over a year ago during what we all know has been one of the most unique times in the history of public education globally,” she said.

Board member Nancy Meister, who this month is concluding her final term as the north Atlanta representative, cast the lone vote against the extension.

Meister was one of three board members who wanted to retain former Superintendent Meria Carstarphen when the board decided in 2019 not to renew her contract. Meister also cast the lone vote against hiring Herring, saying then that it wasn’t wise to switch leaders during a pandemic.

Asked about her Monday vote, Meister provided a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “After 12 years on the board that oversaw four superintendents, I feel my vote was the right decision for myself, and the families of Atlanta Public Schools.”

The board also approved two other changes to Herring’s contract.

She now will receive 10 paid “wellness days” a year. Those are to be used for mental health-related activities and are in addition to the 20 vacation days and other sick days she earns annually.

Esteves said the move is in line with the district’s commitment to caring for employees’ wellbeing.

The board also removed a clause that would have required Herring to pay the district a sum of money — $100,000 in her first year, $75,000 in her second year, and $25,000 in her third year — if she were to quit before her initial term ended.

“She’s been in service for a year and a half, and she’s still here so we wanted to take that provision out,” Esteves said.

APS Superintendent

Name: Lisa Herring

Hired by APS: July 2020

Previous position: Superintendent of Birmingham City School District in Alabama

Education: 1994 graduate of Spelman College’ master’s degree from the University of South Carolina, doctorate from Georgia Southern University

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