The superintendent of schools in Alabama’s largest city is being picked to lead Atlanta’s public school system.

Atlanta school board members on Tuesday named Birmingham Superintendent Lisa Herring as their sole finalist to be Atlanta’s next superintendent.

The board must, under Georgia law, wait 14 days between announcing Herring and voting to hire her, If officials move forward, they say Herring would start work on July 1.

She would replace Selma, Alabama, native Meria Carstarphen, who won plaudits for improving academic performance and morale in the 51,000-student Atlanta system after a devastating cheating scandal. Carstarphen had wanted to stay on, but board members declined to renew her contract, with some saying they needed a leader with different skills to lead Atlanta toward better academic results.

Herring is a Macon, Georgia, native who taught students in Atlanta schools as a Spelman College student. She touts her record in Birmingham, including improving the 22,000-student district’s grade on Alabama’s school-rating report card from F to C, reducing the number of F-rated schools from 22 to five and winning full accreditation after a state takeover due to financial problems and board conflict.

“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,” school board chairman Jason Esteves said in a statement.

The board plans online sessions for the public to ask Herring questions before its final vote.

The Atlanta district has sharp divides between a minority of affluent children and a majority of poorer children, mostly African American,

The 47-year-old Herring previously was chief of academics in Louisville, Kentucky, and Charleston, South Carolina. Before that, she worked as a counselor and assistant director of student support services in the Atlanta suburb of DeKalb County, and was a teacher with the Bibb County schools in her hometown of Macon.

(Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Herring)
(Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Herring)

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