Atlanta schools head speaks out after shooting near Grady stadium

Friday night’s shooting near a Grady High School football game sparked plenty of reactions, including statements of concern and calls for action from a school board member and the superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools.

Meria Carstarphen, who has been APS superintendent for a little more than a year, wrote on her official blog that the events proved the need for "dramatic and immediate change" to make the city safer for children.

“We need our community to support us as we push aside agendas that have nothing to do with children,” she wrote.

Nearly two dozens shots were fired during the incident, which left one teenager in critical condition after being shot in the back and a passerby wounded.

According to a police report, the 18-year-old victim was confronted by “four or five males” near Monroe Drive and 8th Street while he was leaving Grady’s football game with Carver High School. He expected a fist fight, but instead was surprised to find someone in the other group pulling a gun and firing.

The victim, a student at Crim Open Campus High School, ran away but was shot before being taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, police said.

Also hit was a 52-year-old woman driving through the intersection. The woman, struck by stray bullets in the ankle and head, was taken to Atlanta Medical Center where she was, police said, in stable condition.

Police said 21 shell casings were recovered from the scene. As of Sunday, no arrests had been made in the case.

Carstarphen said the shootings "are symptoms of deep-rooted problems that require real cures and solutions if we are ever to move forward."

Without making specific suggestions, she said adults must make investments, “embracing the bold direction that may indeed leave some people uncomfortable. “

Improvement in the education offered students will not be enough, Carstarphen wrote, “if we don’t transform the culture inside and outside the district to be child centered where every adult works with our students’ best interest at heart.”

Moreover, the problems are much larger than the schools, according to Carstarphen: The goal must be to “break the cycle of poverty, the cycle of bigotry, the cycle of ignorance and the cycle of violence forever in Atlanta.”

On Saturday, Atlanta school board member Matt Westmoreland said in his own Facebook post that "as a Grady alum and former Carver teacher, last night hit especially close to home."

He said the shooting made him frightened, angry and shaken, but also “sad when the conversation turns racial.”

“In situations like this, it’s common to look for someone or something to blame, and to get filled with anger and rage,” he wrote. “But blame and anger don’t end violence, free our streets of crime, change the hearts and minds of our older kids, or help mold the hearts and minds of our younger ones.”

Moreover, the problem cannot be treated as an outside force, he wrote. “The trigger on that gun was pulled by someone who lives in our community, who likely grew up in our schools.”