Atlanta Public Schools has named Lisa Herring, Ed.D., as its superintendent finalist.

Herring will replace Meria Carstarphen, Ed.D., who is leaving the district after the Atlanta Board of Education in September opted not to renew her contract, which expires June 30. Herring, a Macon native, is completing her third year as superintendent of Birmingham City Schools in Alabama.

“My calling is truly to serve all people regardless of their background or influence and it would be an honor to serve the people of Atlanta,” Herring said in a news release. “I am a trained counselor who knows to listen and learn in order to better serve the community, so I look forward to hearing your questions and concerns as we seek unique ways to engage together during this time of social distancing.”

The board launched a nationwide search for Carstarphen’s replacement in October. According to the release, in accordance with Georgia law, the board must wait at least 14 days between announcing a final candidate for the superintendent position and making the appointment official.

Due to the social distancing restrictions in place because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the board may extend that period to ensure district stakeholders have a chance to learn more about Herring. Those opportunities will come through a series of virtual meetings, virtual question-and-answer sessions and local media opportunities.

Herring has more than 25 years of experience in urban public-school districts across the Southeast. She has a proven track record of success in school turnaround and academic achievement along with building strong partnerships across the entire community.

During Herring’s tenure with the Birmingham district, she has restored it to full accreditation after it was put on probation prior to her arrival. Under her guidance, the district also has improved its state-issued report card grade from an underperforming F to a passing C.

By focusing on “children first” and researched-based interventions, it also decreased the number of F-rated schools from 22 to six, and 67% of all schools improved on their individual state report card with 13 schools moving up a letter grade or more.

Herring has a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College, and during that time she completed her observational field work at the Atlanta district’s Therrell High School. She holds an educational specialist and master of education in school counseling from the University of South Carolina, a doctorate in education administration from Georgia Southern University and an educational leadership certificate from the University of Georgia.

Herring spent several years as a school counselor and assistant director of student support services in the DeKalb County district and held a similar role in the Bibb County district. More recently, she was deputy superintendent of academics of Charleston County School District in Charleston, South Carolina and chief academic officer of Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Over the last six months, the APS community played a significant role in crafting the leadership profile the Board used to identify potential candidates,” Atlanta district board chair Jason Esteves said in the release. “We believe with her passion for serving students paired with her focus on equity and achievement for all, Dr. Herring is the best leader to take APS to a new level and close the achievement gap for so many of our students.”

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