Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Herring

A petition urging the Atlanta Board of Education to offer Superintendent Lisa Herring a new contract has gathered nearly 2,000 signatures in just five days.

The petition at was created by Clark Atlanta University student Anthony Mitchell, who goes to the same Decatur church, House of Hope, as Herring.

Mitchell said he learned about the board of education’s decision not to extend Herring’s contract beyond the coming school year from members of his congregation.

“As soon as I heard the story, I knew we needed to do something to help our sister,” Mitchell said. “She has done great work for Atlanta Public Schools.”

He said he wanted to “counteract” a petition created by a parents’ group called Transparency Now demanding Herring’s ouster due to low test scores, high absenteeism, and an increase in disciplinary incidents. That petition has been up since early February and has only garnered a little more than 1,300 signatures.

“We had 1,700 signatures in three days supporting Dr. Herring,” Mitchell said. “The response has been amazing.”

Midtown resident Derrick Grissom, who also attends House of Hope, said he signed the petition because he believed in Herring’s leadership.

“Look at the graduation rates,” Grissom said, noting that the class of 2022  yielded the highest graduation rate in the history of APS at 84%. “Considering she took over the job at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she deserves more time to finish the job she started.”

Grissom said he was aware of some parents’ ongoing anger over the COVID-19 protocols adopted by APS, which saw a delay in the return to in-person learning and an extension of mask requirements.

“The whole country was trying to figure out to respond to COVID,” Grissom said. “The kids should be front and center and not caught up in the politics surrounding the pandemic.”

Grissom also questioned why the school board had given Herring a good performance review in December, but six months later had decided to let her go.

“She’s not getting a fair chance,” he said. “The school board has effectively undermined her role for the next school year. I’m still waiting for the school board to give us answers about why they made this decision.”

School board chair Eshé Collins issued a statement following the decision not renew Herring’s contract. “So long as she is the Superintendent, Dr. Herring and the Board will continue the critical work that has begun, particularly the laser focus on student achievement. We are confident that as the Superintendent transitions and the Board embarks on the search for the next transformative leader for APS, the work will continue uninterrupted, and APS will remain a great place for children.”

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.