Dr. Meria Carstarphen Named Lone Finalist as the Next Austin School Superintendent
February 26, 2009 - The Austin School District Board of Trustees today voted to name Dr. Meria Carstarphen as the lone finalist to be the next Superintendent of the Austin Independent School District.
“It is abundantly clear to me that Dr. Carstarphen is best-qualified to come to Austin and go to work on behalf of all Austin students,” Board President Mark Williams said. “She has a clear vision of how to lead the Austin School District to a higher level of academic achievement for every student. She knows what works, and what doesn’t work.
Dr. Carstarphen's Bio“We believe that, when they get to know her, the Austin community will recognize Dr. Carstarphen as a passionate, energetic, reform-minded visionary, who understands the challenges of a diverse urban school district. We welcome her to Austin, and we look forward to introducing her to the District, with the talent and potential that AISD has,” Mr. Williams said.
Statement by Superintendent Forgione
Press Conference (Feb. 26, 2009)
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Dr. Carstarphen currently serves as Superintendent of St. Paul, Minnesota, Public Schools. In that position, Mr. Williams said Dr. Carstarphen has guided a diverse urban school district that is similar to Austin in many respects: multi-cultural school environments; a growing number of English Language Learner students; and challenges in overcoming achievement gaps among student groups. St. Paul, like Austin, is also a state capital city, and Dr. Carstarphen has been an effective voice for public education before the Minnesota Legislature, Mr. Williams said.
“I am extremely honored to have secured the confidence of the Austin School District Board of Trustees that they would name me the lone finalist to become their next School Superintendent,” Dr. Carstarphen said. “I look forward to introducing myself to the Austin community, especially visits to Austin schools and meeting staff.”
“I want to achieve what’s best for Austin’s kids,” Dr. Carstarphen said.
Addressing the audience in Spanish, Dr. Carstarphen added, “Cada estudiante merece encontrar en nuestras escuelas amor, cariño, resonsabilidad y dedicación. Cada niño tiene derecho a una educación que le permita disfrutar todo lo que esta sociedad ofrece.”
Previously, Dr. Carstarphen served as the Chief Accountability Officer of Washington DC Schools; Executive Director for Comprehensive School Improvement and Accountability in Kingsport, Tennessee; and Special Assistant to the Superintendent in Columbus, Ohio. Her professional experience also includes elementary education work abroad in Spain and Venezuela.
She began her career in public education as a middle school Spanish and documentary photography teacher in Selma, Alabama, where she grew up.
Dr. Carstarphen holds a Bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and a Master’s degree from Auburn University. She earned a Doctorate in Education from Harvard University. She has also studied at the University of Seville, Spain, and the University of Innsbruck, Austria.
President Williams said Dr. Carstarphen’s professional affiliation with the Educational Testing Service, the Asia Society, the Council of Great City Schools, and the Harvard Urban Superintendent Advisory Board, among other well-known national organizations, will enhance AISD position in the national urban education arena.
“Dr. Carstarphen, literally, brings to Austin a world of education experience,” President Williams said.
“When I asked what she wanted to do first, as soon as this announcement was over, Dr. Carstarphen said, ‘I want to meet some Austin students, teachers, and principals.
“Accordingly, our next stop is Zilker Elementary School, one of the District’s many diverse campuses.”
During this brief, introductory visit to Austin, Dr. Carstarphen will also visit Eastside Memorial High School on the Johnston Campus, and Murchison Middle School. In addition to her whirlwind introduction to students and faculty at three Austin schools, she is scheduled to visit with numerous community, business, and media leaders.
“Because she is with us this week for only two days, before she has to return to St. Paul, Dr. Carstarphen will not be able to see and talk to everyone who she’s eager to meet,” Mr. Williams said.
“We very much look forward to when Dr. Carstarphen can return for a longer visit, and a comprehensive series of broadly-promoted community events,” Mr. Williams said. That visit is likely to occur following administration of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge & Skills tests between March 3-6, and before Spring Break, March 16-20.
Trustees will meet to take form action on Dr. Carstarphen’s appointment as Austin School Superintendent following the required 21-day waiting period, which ends on March 19. Terms of her contract, including her official start date, are yet to be determined.
When her contract becomes final, Dr. Carstarphen will be the first African American and the first woman to hold the position of Superintendent in AISD’s 128-year history.
Dr. Carstarphen will succeed Superintendent Pat Forgione, who earlier announced his retirement, effective by June 30, after 10 years with the Austin School District.
Scheduled Public Appearances