Coronavirus, Education

Metro Atlanta School Districts Search For Superintendents While Campuses Are Closed

Atlanta Public Schools and The DeKalb County School District are both still looking for new leaders.
Atlanta Public Schools and The DeKalb County School District are both still looking for new leaders.
Credit Mallory Falk / KERA
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As public school districts have closed campuses and moved to online communication due to coronavirus concerns, two metro Atlanta school systems are still trying to conduct superintendent searches.

Atlanta Public Schools and The DeKalb County School District are both still looking for new leaders. Both districts have hired private firms to help them search for candidates.

The Atlanta Board of Education said the adjustment hasn’t slowed down its search process.

“We’ve had to adjust from in-person interviews to video-conference interviews, but the people we’re using video conferences with we’ve already seen in person,” Board Chair Jason Esteves said.

He credits the district’s early start with the easy transition. APS began looking for a new leader shortly after the board decided in September not to extend Meria Carstarphen’s contract, which ends in June.

Esteves said the board is on track to announce a sole finalist for the job in May. State law requires local school districts to allow a 14-day public input period after announcing who the finalist is. Esteves said that could be the trickiest part of the process.

“The biggest challenge is going to be: How do you get this person to meet people when large gatherings are likely to be banned until summertime?” he said.

Esteves said the board could end up expanding the 14-day window so that the finalist will be able to meet with community members and stakeholders. Even if that’s the case, Esteves expects the new superintendent to start July 1.

The DeKalb County School District said the online adjustment has slowed down its search. The school system issued the following statement about the process:

“The superintendent search is still underway. While we have experienced some small delays due to the coronavirus outbreak, we are excited about the progress made so far. We are optimistic that we will be able to introduce a candidate soon. As circumstances have evolved, we have used a combination of in-person and virtual meetings in accordance with state guidelines. We are continuing to implement our plan to keep the identities of candidates confidential until we are able to announce a sole finalist.”

Ramona Tyson has been serving as DeKalb’s interim superintendent after the district cut ties with Stephen Green last fall. Tyson has said she plans to retire in June and would not stay in the position if the district doesn’t have a finalist by then.

A note of disclosure: The Atlanta Board of Education holds WABE’s broadcast license.

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