Mayor Kasim Reed said Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen “doesn’t know what she’s talking about” in her request for the city to release deeds to school property.
Earlier this week, Carstarphen told the school board that she’s unable to execute the sale of an abandoned property in Adair Park because the city has refused to turn over the deed. Atlanta maintains deeds to a number of school properties because the district was once under its purview.
Reed said the city isn’t obligated to turn over the deeds, which he says are now part of ongoing negotiations over debt the city owes APS in connection with the Atlanta Beltline.
Speaking after his annual State of the City business breakfast on Wednesday, Reed called Carstarphen’s remarks “an unfortunate political stunt.”
She’s inexperienced in Atlanta and doesn’t know what she’s talking about, unfortunately,” he said, without going into specifics. “I’m not the first mayor not to turn over the deeds. Clearly there is a reason why they haven’t been turned over; the city has had them for some time.”
Reed has repeatedly said he helped raise funds to recruit the school leader to Atlanta last year.
APS spokeswoman Jill Strickland said Carstarphen’s goal Monday was to solicit help from the board to resolve the issue. The school system has worked “in good faith” with Atlanta’s real estate director, as well as potential buyers, she said.
A developer is poised to buy the dilapidated elementary school for $412,000, a deal that resulted from a competitive bid process, APS records show.
“She is not trying to pick a political fight,” Strickland said. “These properties have nothing to do with the Beltline.”
But Reed contends that the properties are intertwined with the conflict because former Superintendent Erroll Davis proposed that the city return the deeds as part of a solution to the Beltline conflict. That’s something Carstarphen would know, he said, “had she done her homework.”
Davis, who was hired for $1 last year to lead negotiations on the conflict, could not be reached for official comment.
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