Education

APS School Turnaround Plan Leaves Parents Feeling Alienated

APS Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen is leading an effort to turn around several schools that could be at risk for a state takeover.
APS Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen is leading an effort to turn around several schools that could be at risk for a state takeover.
Credit Nick Nesmith / WABE

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In November, voters will decide whether the state should be able to take over underperforming schools. However, officials with the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) aren’t waiting for the vote.

The board of education approved a “school turnaround” plan last month, but some parents at a school board meeting Monday night said the district has ignored their concerns.  

The plan includes hiring partner organizations to help manage some schools. Nikita Maddox’s son attends Thomasville Heights Elementary School, which will be run by a nonprofit called Purpose Built. Maddox told the school board Monday she feels pushed aside.

“We have been a community in need for a long time, and APS has been missing for a long time,” she said. “But we don’t appreciate being exploited for the financial gain of anyone. We believe if you really cared, someone would have consulted with us and involved us in the process.” 

APS held community input meetings before the board voted on the plan. Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said she wants to maintain an open dialog with parents in the community. 

“I just think we need to make more links between Purpose Built and the school: scheduling more time with the parents, perhaps in smaller groups, being more clear on what the meetings are and helping Purpose Built understand what the needs of the parents are in understanding what the future design would look like and how it would work,” she said. 

The plan involves merging some schools and closing others. It will cost APS about $24 million. 

A note of disclosure: WABE’s broadcast license is held by the Atlanta Board of Education.