Atlanta Public Schools’ to pay $112,000 for equity audit

Atlanta Public Schools will pay $112,000 for an equity audit to update findings from a 2014 report that identified disparities in how students are educated.

The work is part of a larger effort undertaken by the district in recent years to address equity, including a push to close the academic gap between white students and students of color.

Last fall, the district hired its first chief equity and social justice officer to lead a new equity division, to be staffed with a half-dozen newly created administrative positions.

To assist with that work, the district agreed to pay $112,000 to the Leadership Academy, a New York-based nonprofit, to perform a new equity audit.

“Our current equity audit is almost 10 years old, so we are now dealing with a whole new generation of students and, in some areas, more pronounced equity issues not just in Atlanta but from a national standpoint,” the district said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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The report aims to identify inequities in schools and the contributing factors, as well as how the coronavirus pandemic “has exacerbated and created additional gaps,” APS said.

The district did similar work before. In 2014, a Georgia State University study found “substantial variations across schools.”

It identified disparities between schools in wealthier areas, who had more experienced teachers, and schools in poorer neighborhoods. Other issues included a lack of parent-teacher groups in some schools and differences in suspension rates.

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APS will use the latest study to create a plan to try to tackle problems.

District officials initially wanted to finish the report before this school year ends. But APS said it pushed back the date to November to provide more time to review the data and “properly engage our community.”