Meria Carstarphen is the superintendent of the Austin Independent School District. Carstarphen replaced former Superintendent Pat Forgione in July of 2009, after serving as superintendent of schools in St. Paul, Minn., for three years. Carstarphen is first African American and the first woman to serve as superintendent of Austin schools.
Carstarphen's first major challenge as superintendent came in her first week in office, when Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott announced East Austin's Pearce Middle School would be placed under state-required "repurposing." Carstarphen criticized the state's decision to use mandatory repurposing at Pearce, a school that made substantial gains in performance in recent years and only narrowly missed the state's benchmarks for the previous year.
During her tenure in St. Paul, Carstarphen helped organize the passage of a $180 million bond package. She also oversaw restructuring of schools to combat racial inequality and falling enrollment numbers among students. Before moving to St. Paul in 2006, Carstarphen worked as chief accountability officer of public schools in Washington D.C.
Carstarphen holds a Ph.D. in Education Administration from Harvard University and a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from Tulane University. She is a recipient of the Harold Hunt Fellowship at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before becoming a school administrator, Carstarphen worked as a middle school teacher in Selma, Alabama, for four years.