APS officials: We’re still waiting for city to hand over deeds

The city of Atlanta holds the deeds to dozens of Atlanta school properties and has refused to turn them over to the school district, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said.

That means the school district can’t sell four properties currently under contract for $1.4 million. But Carstarphen said this week that she was seeking all 44 deeds she said the city holds.

“I very much need our deeds,” Carstarphen told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this month.

In a written statement Mayor Kasim Reed said the delay in transferring some deeds was because Atlanta Public Schools wouldn’t agree to an affordable workforce housing provision for any multifamily housing built on the properties.

“As I emphasized in my State of the City address, creating a more equitable Atlanta that affords APS teachers, firefighters and police officers the opportunity to live in the city they serve is vital to our future and to ensuring that Atlanta is an inclusive city. I have asked APS to partner with the City and agree to include an affordable workforce housing provision in the 10 priority deeds the City of Atlanta is transferring to APS,” he said.

“Unfortunately, APS has rejected this partnership to date. I remain hopeful that the City and APS will be able to work together to promote equity and economic inclusivity.”

The affordable housing restriction wasn’t acceptable to the school district, said APS general counsel Glenn Brock.

“You have no right to put restrictions on our property,” he said.

The city’s possession of the deeds is a relic of the era before the city’s independent school system and has been part of a long-running dispute between the city and APS.

At one point, the deeds were part of negotiations between the city and the school district over payments the city owed the district in connection with the Beltline.

When Carstarphen pressed the city last last February to release the deeds, Reed brushed off her comments as “an unfortunate political stunt” and said she “doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

The next month, the school district began a court case seeking title to four properties: the Adair School, Arkwright Elementary School, Milton Avenue Elementary School, and Wright Elementary School.

In response, the city said the school district had no claim to the titles.

“Anxious to receive a windfall from private developers, APS seeks to jettison the political negotiation process that has resolved issues regarding the school properties for the last four decades and unlawfully sell property held by ‘the City of Atlanta,’ ” the city claimed in a court filing last year.

But this February, shortly after Reed, Carstarphen and school board chairman Courtney English posed together for photos commemorating the resolution of the Beltline dispute, Reed promised he would ask the City Council to transfer 10 deeds.

Carstarphen said, so far, the school district has not received them.

Her relationship with the mayor, she said, is “a work in progress.”

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