Brenda J. Muhammad On APS Redistricting
District 1's board representative weighs in on the schools rezoning debate.
Arguably, the toughest job to hold in Atlanta right now is likely being a member of the Atlanta Board of Education.
Hours from now, the nine-member board could vote on Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr.'s plan for APS which aims to reduce the number of empty seats citywide, ease overcrowding in some schools and slash operating costs.
The road to today's possible vote has been anything but easy.
For several months, parents, teachers and taxpayers from neighborhoods all across the city have poured over redistricting maps and possible scenarios for where children might go.
With several school closures at stake, they've called, e-mailed and written letters to all of the district's board members, including the two who represent East Atlanta Patch schools — Brenda J. Muhammad and Cecily Harsch-Kinnane.
The stories have been heartbreaking.
One mother at Cook Elementary School tearfully told APS officials how she saw a parade of doctors to get a diagnosis for her son and that it wasn't until the principal became involved that she was able to get the help that he needed.
Another mother at D.H. Stanton Elementary talked how her son transferred to the school as a "D" student only to make the honor roll.
Other parents at various schools talked about how those neighborhood institutions have been the lifeblood of their communities.
Closing them, they said, would be tantamount to killing their neighborhoods.
Board members like Muhammad have been listening to all the conversation and reflecting upon all that has been said.
East Atlanta Patch caught up with Muhammad Monday at D.H. Stanton Elementary, following the second closure meeting APS officials had with the school and Peoplestown, the surrounding community.
On the eve of the vote, she shared her thoughts on the debate so far, the pressure board members face and how the city will heal from the inter-neighborhood rifts and divisions the redistricting has created.
Listen to our interview with Muhammad by clicking on the audio clip above.