Atlanta Public Schools hires district’s first equity officer

Tauheedah Baker-Jones has been named the Atlanta Public Schools' first  chief equity and social justice officer. Photo courtesy of Atlanta Public Schools
Caption
Tauheedah Baker-Jones has been named the Atlanta Public Schools' first chief equity and social justice officer. Photo courtesy of Atlanta Public Schools

Credit: Photo courtesy of Atlanta Public Schools

Atlanta Public Schools has named its first chief chief equity and social justice officer.

Superintendent Lisa Herring announced the creation of the cabinet-level position shortly after she became superintendent in July.

On Monday, the school board formally approved the appointment of Tauheedah Baker-Jones to the post. Baker-Jones will report directly to the superintendent.

Baker-Jones has been working as Herring’s senior strategic advisor as she finishes her doctorate in education leadership at Harvard University.

As the district’s equity officer, Baker-Jones will be responsible for building programs and supporting policies that create a more equitable education system for all students. Herring on Monday repeated a statistic she’s referenced before: The district’s white students are nearly 4.5 grade levels ahead of their Black classmates.

Baker-Jones received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she earned her master’s degree in urban education, according to a resume provided by APS to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She also holds a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Her job experience includes teaching social studies in Los Angeles and Newark, New Jersey, school systems and serving as the founding principal of a now-closed New Jersey charter school.

She’s held administrative roles and worked as a senior fellow in the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement in 2019. She’s also been an adjunct professor at Harvard.

“Ms. Baker-Jones clearly articulated her vision for how she will bring the same commitment to equity and social justice with a focus on excellence,” Herring said at Monday’s board meeting.

The district also promoted Yolonda Brown to chief academics officer. The position was created as part of a larger administrative restructuring that Herring announced upon her arrival.

Those changes included eliminating the role of deputy superintendent, which had been vacant since the departure of David Jernigan last spring.

Brown has served as an associate superintendent of schools for APS since 2016.

Before that, she opened Springdale Park Elementary School in Atlanta, working as its first principal.