Wanted: ‘Team builder' to transform Atlanta Public Schools

Atlanta school board members have received a leadership profile against which every candidate to become the city's next superintendent will be measured.

They were told Monday that 45 people have applied for the job so far.

Among other desired traits, the profile said, the next person who leads Atlanta Public Schools "should demonstrate high levels of integrity and honesty; be open to new ideas; be approachable and accessible; seek and value the opinions of others; embrace diversity; and serve as a team builder."

"‘Transformation' was a common theme," said Marvin Edwards, a former superintendent of the year in Illinois who is leading the search on behalf of Illinois-based Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates. Many people, Edwards said, believe "the school district's greatest asset is its potential."

The firm compiled the profile using responses from a town hall meeting, an online survey completed by 1,624 people and one-on-one meetings last month with school board members, APS staff, parents and community leaders. People were asked to list what they perceived to be the district's strengths and weaknesses, as well as qualities an ideal candidate should have to navigate them.

Edwards joked that the ultimate candidate "should walk on water." More seriously, he said no one will be recruited to come to Atlanta without first being reviewed to see whether he or she has abilities that approximate what people have said they want. The report is posted on the APS website, www.atlantapublicschools.us, through its "accreditation review" link.

The firm previously said the end of April through early June was a key period to line up candidates. Recruitment is ongoing, as is the application process. The names of three finalists are expected to be made public in mid-June, if the search stays on schedule.

According to that timeline, the school board will conduct private interviews with about five candidates June 10-11. By the end of the day on June 11, the board will publicly announce the names of three finalists, making its final selection June 25.

Atlanta schools Superintendent Beverly Hall will step down June 30 after 12 years on the job. State and federal investigators continue to examine evidence of widespread test tampering in Atlanta schools.

The school board is also working through governance problems that caused the district's accrediting agency to place it on probation in January.