Atlanta Public Schools
130 Trinity Avenue Southwest
Atlanta, GA 30303-3694
United States
Coordinates33°44′54″N 84°23′29″W / 33.748401°N 84.391485°W / 33.748401; -84.391485Coordinates: 33°44′54″N 84°23′29″W / 33.748401°N 84.391485°W / 33.748401; -84.391485[1]
District information
Motto"Making a Difference"
GradesPre-school - 12
SuperintendentDr. Lisa Herring
Students and staff
Other information
Frederick Douglass High School
Henry W. Grady High School
First Lady Michelle Obama visits Burgess-Peterson Academy, February 9, 2011.
First Lady Michelle Obama visits Burgess-Peterson Academy, February 9, 2011.

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) is a school district based in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. It is run by the Atlanta Board of Education with superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring. The system has an active enrollment of 54,956 students, attending a total of 103 school sites: 50 elementary schools (three of which operate on a year-round calendar), 15 middle schools, 21 high schools, four single-gender academies and 13 charter schools. The school system also supports two alternative schools for middle and/or high school students, two community schools, and an adult learning center.

The school system owns the license for, but does not operate, the radio station WABE-FM 90.1 (the National Public Radio affiliate) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) public television station WABE-TV 30.


The Atlanta Board of Education establishes and approves the policies that govern the Atlanta Public School system. The board consists of nine members, representing six geographical districts,[3] and three "at-large" districts. One person is elected per district to represent the schools in a given district for a four-year term. Under the provisions of the new board charter, approved by the Georgia Legislature in 2003, board members elect a new chairman and vice chairman every two years. The day-to-day administration of the school district is the responsibility of the superintendent, who is appointed by the board.[4]

School board members

APS leadership

2020-2021 school year


High schools

Middle schools

Sutton Middle School
Inman Middle School in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood
Inman Middle School in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood

Elementary schools

Tag Academy

Non-traditional schools

Single-gender academies


Evening school programs

Charter schools


Former schools

High schools

Middle schools

Elementary schools

H. R. Butler Elementary School (Young Street School)


Before 1900

On November 26, 1869, the Atlanta City Council passed an ordinance establishing the Atlanta Public Schools. On January 31, 1872, the first three grammar schools for white students (Crew Street School, Ivy Street School, Walker Street School) opened, and the existing grammar schools for black students (Summer Hill School and Storr's School) established by the Freedman's Bureau in 1866 and supported by the Norther Missionary Socieies, were merged into the holdings of the Atlanta Public Schools.[14] The capacity of each school was 400 students, although the inaugural registration was 1839 students, 639 students over the capacity. In addition, two high schools, divided by sex, were formed for white students, Boys High and Girls High. These initial schools were based on a census of school aged (ages 6–18) children called for by the inaugural Board of Education. That survey reported in October 1870 that there were 3,345 white children (1,540 boys and 1,805 girls) and 3,139 black children (1,421 boys and 1,728 girls) for a total potential student body of 6,484.[15]

the districts for the white grammar schools were divided as follows,

The initial monetary support from the Atlanta City Council was limited. Although a bond had been called for and approved through vote by the residents, there were not yet funds and so the Board of Education had to approach the City Council to cover the purchase of the land, the construction of the buildings, the salaries of the teachers, as well as books to teach from.[17] The first salary budget, dated December 9, 1871, was for twenty-seven teachers, and totaled $21,250. Grade school teachers were paid $450-$800 a year, while principals were paid $1,500 and the superintendent was paid $2,000.[18]

The organization of the schools was a traditional 8-4 arrangement which consisted of 8 years of grammar school for students aged 6 to 14, and 4 years of high school for students aged 14–18.[19] The grades began at eighth for first year students, and students progressed through to the first grade as year eight students of grammar school. The established curriculum for grammar school was, Spelling, Reading, Writing, Geography, Arithmetic (Mental and Written), Natural History, Natural Science, English Grammar, Vocal Music (it was later decided not offer this), Drawing, Composition, History, Elocution.[20] High school curriculum was Orthography, Elocution, Grammar, Physical Geography, Natural Philosophy, Latin, Greek (boys only), Algebra, Geometry, Composition, Rhetoric, English Literature, French or German, Physiology, Chemistry, and a review of grammar school studies.[21]

During 1872 three additional grammar schools for white students (Luckie Street, Decatur Street, and Marietta Street) and an additional grammar school for black students (Markham Street School) were instituted to meet demand. This first year saw 2,842 students served by the schools.[22]

By 1896 there were a total of twenty-two schools, fifteen grammar schools for white students, five grammar schools for black students, and two high schools for white students.[23]


On August 30, 1961, nine students – Thomas Franklin Welch, Madelyn Patricia Nix, Willie Jean Black, Donita Gaines, Arthur Simmons, Lawrence Jefferson, Mary James McMullen, Martha Ann Holmes and Rosalyn Walton – became the first African American students to attend several of APS's all-white high schools.

On September 8, 1961, Time magazine reported:

Last week the moral siege of Atlanta (pop. 487,455) ended in spectacular fashion with the smoothest token school integration ever seen in the Deep South. Into four high schools marched nine Negro students without so much as a white catcall. Teachers were soon reporting "no hostility, no demonstrations, the most normal day we've ever had." In the lunchrooms, white children began introducing themselves to Negro children. At Northside High, a biology class was duly impressed when Donita Gaines, a Negro, was the only student able to define the difference between anatomy and physiology. Said she crisply: "Physiology has to do with functions."

In a 1964 news story, Time would say, "The Atlanta decision was a gentle attempt to accelerate one of the South’s best-publicized plans for achieving integration without revolution."

By May 1961, 300 transfer forms had been given to black students interested in transferring out of their high schools. 132 students actually applied; of those, 10 were chosen and 9 braved the press, onlookers, and insults to integrate Atlanta's all-white high schools.

Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka had established the right of African American students to have equal opportunities in education, but it was not until 1958, when a group of African American parents challenged the segregated school system in federal court, that integration became a tangible reality for students of color in Atlanta.

Adding to the accolades for the students and the city, President Kennedy publicly congratulated residents during an evening address and asked other cities to "look closely at what Atlanta has done and to meet their responsibility... with courage, tolerance and above all, respect for the law."[citation needed]

In 2012, Atlanta Public Schools produced a documentary to honor the 50th anniversary of the district's desegregation efforts.[24] In January 1972, in order to settle several federal discrimination and desegregation lawsuits filed on behalf of minority students, faculty, and employees and reach satisfactory agreement with Atlanta civil rights leaders who had worked over a decade for a peaceful integration plan. Atlanta Public Schools entered into a voluntary agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, with approval and oversight from the U.S. Department of Education, in an attempt to desegregate Atlanta Public Schools. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a majority of Atlanta Northside public schools had either token integration, or none at all. Faculty and staff assignments to schools had remained mostly segregated as well.

The justice department allowed the school system to create and use a plan consisting of partial district busing; voluntary and "M to M" (minority to majority) transfers; redrawing attendance zones; closing outdated and underutilized schools; building new schools; and mandating and implementing equal employment opportunity guidelines for hiring, training, promotion, assignment, vendor selection, bidding, contracting, construction, procurement and purchasing. The school system was also converted from a K-7 elementary and 8-12 high school grade system into a middle school 6–8 grade program beginning with the 1973/1974 school year. The curriculum was also updated to have studies more balanced, inclusive, and diverse, with content culturally and historically significant to racial minorities.

With strict guidelines, oversight and timeline implementation of the voluntary desegregation plan, the federal courts agreed not to order and enforce system-wide a mandatory busing desegregation program for APS that had been federally enforced in other cities up to that time, most notably Boston and Philadelphia which resulted in widespread anti-busing violence in 1973-74 that Atlanta civil rights leaders desired to avoid. Along with this program for racial balance, the school system's first African American Superintendent, Dr. Alonzo A. Crim, took over leadership of Atlanta Public Schools in August 1973. He remained superintendent until his retirement in 1988.

21st century

See also: Atlanta annexations and wards

The City of Atlanta, in 2017, agreed to annex territory in DeKalb County, including the Centers for Disease Control and Emory University, effective January 1, 2018.[25] In 2016 Emory University made a statement that "Annexation of Emory into the City of Atlanta will not change school districts, since neighboring communities like Druid Hills will still be self-determining regarding annexation."[26] By 2017 the city agreed to include the annexed property in the boundaries of APS, a move decried by the leadership of the DeKalb County School District as it would take taxable property away from that district.[25] In 2017 the number of children living in the annexed territory who attended public schools was nine.[27] The area ultimately went to APS;[25] students in the area will be rezoned to APS effective 2024; they will be zoned to DeKalb schools before then.[28]

Cheating scandal

Main article: Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal

During the 11-year tenure of former superintendent Beverly Hall, the APS experienced unusually high gains in standardized test scores, such as the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test. In 2009, Hall won the National Superintendent of the Year Award. Around this time, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution began investigating the score increases and suggested evidence of cheating. A state report found numerous erased answers in an analysis of the 2009 test scores. Tests were administered under much higher scrutiny in 2010, and the scores dropped dramatically.

The state of Georgia launched a major investigation as cheating concerns intensified. The investigation's report, published in July 2011, found evidence of a widespread cheating scandal. At least 178 teachers and principals at 44 APS schools were alleged to have corrected students' tests to increase scores, in some cases holding "cheating parties" to revise large quantities of tests. Hall, who had retired in June 2011, expressed regret but denied any prior knowledge of, or participation in, the cheating.[29] The new superintendent, Erroll Davis, demanded the resignation of the 178 APS employees or else they would be fired. The revelation of the scandal left many Atlantans feeling outraged and betrayed,[30] with Mayor Kasim Reed calling it "a dark day for the Atlanta public school system."[31] The scandal attracted national media coverage.[31][32]

See also


  1. ^ "Free US Geocoder". Archived from the original on 2011-05-11. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  2. ^ a b "Free District Report for Atlanta City". Archived from the original on 29 May 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Atlanta Public Schools : BOE Districts" (PDF). Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Board of Education / Meet the Board". Retrieved 2016-12-30.
  5. ^ "Carver Early College". 19 July 2009. Archived from the original on 19 July 2009. Retrieved 15 October 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ "Carver School of the Arts". 23 July 2009. Archived from the original on 23 July 2009. Retrieved 15 October 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  7. ^ "Welcome to the LAB at Carver School of Health Sciences and Research". Archived from the original on 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2007-10-11.
  8. ^ "School of Technology". Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Crim Open Campus High School". 2 February 2007. Archived from the original on 2 February 2007. Retrieved 15 October 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  10. ^ "Atlanta school replacing KKK leader's name with Hank Aaron's". Seattle Times. Associated Press. 2021-04-14. Retrieved 2021-04-14.
  11. ^ "Single Gender Academies / Single Gender Priority Zones (Opt In)". Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  12. ^ "Charter Schools / List of Charter Schools". Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  13. ^ "Brochure of General Information for Evaluation Visiting Committee - H.M. Turner High School - Atlanta, Georgia". April 28, 1968. Retrieved 15 October 2017. Georgia Archives - RGSGS: 263-02-002 - Unit #3
  14. ^ Rules and regulations for the government of public schools for the City of Atlanta inaugurated January 31, 1872. Atlanta. 1872. p. 5. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  15. ^ Board of Education Minutes, I. October 27, 1870. p. 19.
  16. ^ Rules and regulations for the government of public schools for the City of Atlanta inaugurated January 31, 1872. Atlanta. 1872. p. 5. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  17. ^ Rules and regulations for the government of public schools for the City of Atlanta inaugurated January 31, 1872. Atlanta. 1872. pp. 7–13. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  18. ^ Gaines, W. W. (January 30, 1922). Brief history, Atlanta public school system. Atlanta: Atlanta Board of Education. p. 3. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  19. ^ Rules and Regulations for the Government of Public Schools for the City of Atlanta. Inaugurated January 31, 1872 (1872 ed.). Atlanta. 1872. p. 20. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  20. ^ Rules and regulations for the government of public schools for the City of Atlanta inaugurated January 31, 1872. Atlanta. 1872. p. 20. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  21. ^ Rules and regulations for the government of public schools for the City of Atlanta inaugurated January 31, 1872. Atlanta. 1872. p. 20. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  22. ^ Atlanta Public Schools: First Annual Report of the Board of Education for the School Year Ending August 31, 1872. Atlanta, GA: The Constitution Book and Job Print. 1872. p. 23. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  23. ^ Ecke, Melvin W (1972). From Ivy Street to Kennedy Center; centennial history of the Atlanta public school system. Atlanta: Atlanta Board of Education. pp. 50–51. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  24. ^ "Remembering the Atlanta 9". YouTube. 5 December 2012. Archived from the original on 2021-12-19. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  25. ^ a b c Niesse, Mark. "City of Atlanta's expansion to Emory and CDC approved". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  26. ^ "Emory University statement on possible annexation". Emory University. 2016-08-19. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  27. ^ Niesse, Mark (2017-10-16). "9 students and $2.3M stand in the way of Emory's annexation to Atlanta". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  28. ^ McCray, Vanessa (2019-12-10). "APS, DeKalb annexation deal could pay for six school health clinics". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2020-03-11.
  29. ^ Judd, Alan (May 27, 2011). "Atlanta superintendent acknowledges cheating". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta, GA. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  30. ^ Schneider, Craig (July 11, 2011). "Atlanta school kids angry over cheating scandal". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta, GA. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  31. ^ a b Severson, Kim (July 5, 2011). "Systematic Cheating Is Found in Atlanta's School System". The New York Times. New York, NY. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  32. ^ Kuo, Vivian (July 18, 2011). "2 Atlanta educators step down; 176 others also face ultimatum". CNN. Retrieved July 19, 2011.