After a months-long search for its new superintendent, the Atlanta Board of Education named a familiar face as its lone finalist for the leadership position in a written announcement on Tuesday morning. The board selected Lisa Herring, the current leader of the Birmingham, Alabama school district, as the finalist for the position of superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools.

“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,” said school board Chairman Jason Esteves.

Lisa Herring. (Special)

If appointed to the role, Herring would start on July 1.

Herring, who is completing her third year as Birmingham’s superintendent, is a Macon native who attended Spelman College for her undergraduate education. She completed her observational field work with APS, serving at Therrell High School in Southwest Atlanta.

“My calling is truly to serve all people regardless of their background or influence,” Herring said in a press release. “It would be an honor to serve the people of Atlanta.”

The search for a new superintendent began in September 2019 when Esteves said the board would not renew Meria Carstarphen’s contract. Carstarphen has served since 2014, and her contract will expire June 30.

Georgia law mandates that the school board wait a minimum of 14 days after announcing its finalist before officially making its appointment. During this period, the board will hold meetings and media events to introduce Herring to the community. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, all events will be held virtually and the board will share updates to its website and social media platforms.

“I am a trained counselor who knows to listen and learn in order to better serve the community,” Herring said in the press release. “I look forward to hearing your questions and concerns as we seek unique ways to engage together during this time of social distancing.”

In a video conference posted by the school board on April 21, Esteves said candidates went through up to four rounds of interviews. While the board was impressed with several applicants, Esteves said Herring “impressed all of us with her Georgia roots, passion for equity and student success and strong experience that has prepared her to lead Atlanta Public Schools.”

Herring “brings 25 years of experience improving progress and student achievement in urban settings across the southeast,” Esteves said.

APS has about 52,000 students, more than 5,200 teachers, and 91 learning sites, according to the district. That dwarfs Birmingham City Schools, a system of over 22,000 students across 42 schools.

The public can participate in virtual question-and-answer sessions held by the school board over the next several weeks. Questions can be submitted in the following ways:

–Ryan Kolakowski