Outgoing AISD superintendent reflects on time in Austin

Dr. Meria Carstarphen
Dr. Meria Carstarphen

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After five years leading the Austin Independent School District, Dr. Meria Carstarphen is leaving her post to become the next superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools.

She officially accepted the new position Monday. It is a position Dr. Carstarphen tells KXAN she did not pursue, but is the result of Atlanta pursuing her. Some question her decision to leave AISD for a district with half as many students.

“Some assume you would naturally go to a bigger place,” Carstarphen said. “I think a lot of people have made a lot of assumptions about me, they’ve made a lot of assumptions about what I value. Something that I really believe is that once you have been given much, that you are to give that back, and right now that place is to help heal and rebuild Atlanta.”

“For me and my value system, it is the right thing to do at the right time for not only my country, but for the field of public education,” Carstarphen said.

From massive state budget cuts that led to more than 1,000 AISD layoffs in 2011 to the introduction of a tougher state test, the superintendent’s time in Austin has not been easy.

KXAN Education Reporter Erin Cargile sat down with Dr. Carstarphen for an exclusive interview to talk about why she is leaving, what she considers to be her most challenging and triumphant moments, and what she expects to be the largest hurdles that lie ahead for AISD. Watch the interview in the video player above.

The school board is expected to name Dr. Paul Cruz as the district’s interim superintendent on Tuesday. AISD must wait 24 hours after Carstarphen leaves before making the official announcement.

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