The Charter Schools Office supports The School District of Philadelphia’s Board of Education in its role as an authorizer of brick and mortar charter schools operating in Philadelphia.

An authorizer is responsible for reviewing, evaluating and approving new charters, establishing performance goals for existing charter schools, regularly reviewing and evaluating charter school performance, conducting comprehensive renewal reviews, and sharing information about charter schools and their performance with the public.

Three principles guide our work:

  • Accountability   Improving the School District’s capacity to establish and maintain high standards for its charter schools by measuring charter performance against clear standards and implementing consequences when standards are not met.
  • Autonomy   Preserving charter school independence by focusing on accountability for student outcomes rather than methods, as it relates to curriculum, hiring, and other areas.
  • Equity   Protecting the right of students and families to equal access and fair treatment in Philadelphia’s charter schools.

The School of District of Philadelphia received an evaluation for its work as a charter authorizer by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA). The CSO continues to be focused on driving the quality of our own work to support all charter sector stakeholders. The NACSA evaluation is available here.


Charter Schools Office Staff

Christina Grant
Interim Chief of Charters and Innovation

Christina Grant sets the mission and vision for the CSO and ensures the strategic plan for the sector is implemented with fidelity. She also serves as the external source of support for our schools. She has served as a CMO founder/leader, charter school authorizer and most important – teacher. Christina holds education degrees from Columbia University and Fordham University. She studied political science at Hofstra University and is currently enrolled in doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania.


Peng Chao
Senior Director

Peng Chao focuses on ensuring that the Charter Schools Office executes its work in alignment with its strategic plan and in support of Philadelphia’s entire system of schools. Since becoming an authorizer in 2013, Peng has managed projects across the authorizing spectrum (e.g. new schools, restarts, operations). Previously, he taught middle school math in district and charter schools in Philadelphia. Peng has a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University and a Master’s degree in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania.


Natalie Wilson
Director, Strategy & Operations

Natalie Wilson focuses on strategic planning, knowledge management, and the development and documentation of processes and procedures. She comes to the district as a Broad Resident through the Broad Residency in Urban Education, a leadership development program that matches qualified participants to full-time managerial positions in urban school districts, charter management organizations, and federal and state departments of education. Prior to joining the CSO, she was a portfolio manager at a workforce focused nonprofit venture philanthropy fund, after shifting careers from healthcare corporate finance and actuarial consulting. Natalie holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.


Roger Kligerman
Director, Quality & Accountability

Roger Kligerman analyzes academic and school climate data that inform understanding of charter school performance, most notably via Annual Charter Evaluations and renewal reports. In addition to the reporting done by the CSO, Roger supports other district offices that utilize charter data to drive their decision making. Prior to joining the CSO, he worked in the District Performance Office, where his focus was production of the School Progress Report. He has direct experience working with charter schools in Philadelphia; Washington, DC; New Jersey; and Rhode Island. Roger holds a Master’s degree in Urban Education Policy from Brown University and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and History from Oberlin College.


Tim Hanser
Assistant Director, Finance & Operations

Tim Hanser analyzes financial data that inform understanding of the financial health and fiscal management performance of charter schools. Prior to joining the CSO, he served as the municipal finance analyst for the Town of Simsbury, Connecticut. Tim holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Connecticut, a Master’s degree in Education from Pace University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry from Purdue University.


Nick Spiva
Assistant Director, Charter Quality and Policy

Nick Spiva supports the annual evaluation and ongoing monitoring of charter schools, including the production of Annual Charter Evaluation (ACE) reports. He also leads the production of the Charter School Profiles and serves as a liaison for charters participating in a variety of initiatives, such as the District-Wide Surveys and the District Truancy Program. Prior to joining the CSO, he worked at EducationCounsel, an education policy consulting firm, supporting endeavors such as the Mayor’s District-Charter Collaboration Task Force and the Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium. He taught high school mathematics at a charter school in New Orleans, where he also supported the school’s credit recovery program. Nick holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Colorado College.


Steve Coyle
Assistant Director, Charter Development

Steve Coyle develops and manages the new charter application process, applicant evaluation and review, and liaises with relevant District personnel while recruiting external reviewers for new applications. Previously, he taught at two high performing charter schools that serve at-risk populations in Philadelphia for ten years. Steve is a graduate of Temple University’s Educational Leadership Program, where he received his M.Ed. and Principal Certification.  He also has Instructional II Teaching Certifications in Social Studies & Science.  He received his B.A. in History from Worcester State College in Massachusetts.


Essence Caleb
Assistant Director, Accountability

Essence Caleb supports with the consistent oversight of charter schools including Annual Charter Evaluations and renewals. Prior to joining the CSO, Essence served as both the Director of Special Education and the Middle School Assistant Principal at a charter school in Brooklyn, New York. Essence began her education career as a Teach for America Corps Member. She is a Fordham University alumna where she obtained a Master’s degree in teaching both adolescent English Language Arts and Special Education. She also has an English MA from Rutgers University.


Gabriela Timothy
Project Manager, Accountability

Gabriela Timothy assists the charter schools office in ongoing, active engagement and oversight of charter schools. She is a former Special Education Teacher for Charter schools in the Philadelphia Area. She holds an Instructional 1 Certification in Special Education and English. She began her career as a teacher through the Philadelphia Teaching Fellows, directly after serving as a Mentoring Coordinator at a local Philadelphia high school.  She holds a Masters in Education from Chestnut Hill College and is dually certified in Special Education and Middle School English. She is also a Temple Alumna, holding a Bachelors in Arts in Media Studies and African American Studies.


David Kibelstis
Project Manager, Accountability

Dave Kibelstis supports with Annual Charter Evaluations and the ongoing oversight of charter schools. Prior to joining the CSO, he spent over nine years as a member of a Philadelphia charter network, serving first as a teacher, then as an Assistant Principal of Operations. He holds Instructional II teaching certifications in Elementary Education, Social Studies, Literature and Technology. Dave has a Master’s degree in Applied Technology from Chestnut Hill College and a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Temple University.


Cherron Schell
Program Coordinator

Cherron serves as the CSO’s point person in its family and community engagement initiatives. She brings to the CSO a diverse professional background that spans sectors and specialties. Most recently, Cherron worked at a local university in a student support role. Prior to this, she worked at the Philadelphia International Airport for nine years in various capacities and was an elementary school teacher in Philadelphia for six years. Cherron has an MBA from Eastern University and a Bachelor’s degree Chestnut Hill College.


Biridiana Rodriguez
Project Manager, Charter Development

Biridiana Rodriguez supports the new charter application and charter amendment processes. Prior to joining the Charter Schools Office, Biridiana served as an elementary and middle school history teacher in North Carolina. She holds a Master’s degree in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Education from Duke University.