By Rebekka Schramm (CBS Atlanta Reporter)/Special to the Daily World
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Tuesday that he is pleased that Khaatim Sherrer El has decided to step aside as chairman of Atlanta Public Schools’ troubled Board of Education.
“I really don’t want to make this about Mr. El,” said Reed. “My fundamental criticism was that he assumed power through a simple majority.”
That, Reed says, went against the super-majority clause of the school system charter that the mayor wrote when he was a state senator. And it was the reason the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools intervened, Reed said. SACS eventually put the school district on probation.
The parent organization, Step Up Or Step Down, said El’s decision is a step in the right direction.
“There’s a great deal of mistrust on this board because of things that have happened in the past,” said Julie Salisbury. “If they had someone in the chairman’s seat that was not involved in the fracas, it would probably be a good beacon for them to rally around in moving forward more quickly.”
Monday night, El indicated he will step aside as chairman.
Reed responded to concerns by some of El’s supporters that El was bullied into stepping aside.
“This was never going to be easy,” answered Reed. “I could have stood by and not done anything and tried to be friendly and stay out of the fray. Or I could take action and do something about it.”
Salisbury praised the mayor for getting involved in the school district’s troubles.
“I think it certainly helped,” said Salisbury. “I think it’s a great thing when the leader of our city realizes how important public education is to the future of the entire city.”
Who will take El’s place? We’ve learned board members are prepared to choose Brenda Muhammad and Reuben McDaniel, although it’s unclear who will take the chairman’s spot and who will be vice chair.
The mayor says he’s now prepared to back the school board and try to rekindle the school district’s dwindling support.
“I’m really happy for the 47,000 children who are in APS. I believe the likelihood of them moving off of probation was enhanced,” Reed said.
SACS has given the school district until Sept. 30 to meet six requirements needed to retain accreditation.