Here’s who could be chosen for the new Philadelphia Board of Education

A group of people sit in a row at a long table with portraits on the wall and a flag in the background.
Mayor Cherelle Parker will pick from a list of 27 finalists to appoint a school board that reflects her education priorities. (Carly Sitrin / Chalkbeat)

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The Philadelphia Board of Education will have at least two new members, according to a list of candidates submitted to Mayor Cherelle Parker.

The 13-member Education Nominating Panel voted to approve its shortlist of 27 finalists at a public meeting Tuesday evening. The list includes former teachers and administrators, education advocates, business leaders, and labor union officials and appears to represent a range of ages and neighborhoods.

Otis Bullock Jr., chair of the panel, said the group was “just looking for diversity all around the board.”

“You need some folks on here with some gravitas … and legislative experience,” Bullock said. He added if the school district is looking to legislators in Harrisburg for additional funding for the cash-strapped district, “you need some folks that know how to do that.”

Parker’s board picks will have the power to set the education agenda in the nation’s eighth largest school district. Board members can authorize or deny new charter schools, hire and evaluate superintendents, guide curriculum decisions, and approve the district’s $4.5 billion budget.

Seven of the names on the panel’s list are current board members, but board Vice President Mallory Fix-Lopez and Julia Danzy were not on the list. Earlier this month, Fix-Lopez unexpectedly announced she would be resigning, and Danzy had previously indicated she would not be reapplying.

Which candidates Parker chooses to sit on the board — in conjunction with her budget proposal expected to be released on Thursday — will signal her education priorities for the city.

Parker has indicated she may be more open to expanding the charter school sector than her predecessor Jim Kenney. The school board has not approved a new charter school since 2018. Charters, which are publicly funded but privately run, now educate upwards of 70,000 students in Philadelphia, about a third of those enrolled in tax-supported city schools.

Indeed, many of the public comments at Tuesday’s meeting included calls for more charter seats and resources for those schools, a fair authorization process, and an end to charter school closures.

Many of the written comments, which were read aloud at the meeting, were identically worded, and echoed something Parker has said. She wants to eliminate the “us vs. them mentality” between district-run and charter schools.

Despite speculation that Parker’s nominating panel would try to load the shortlist with pro-charter activists, few of the 27 people on the list appear to have direct or deep connections to charter schools.

This is the first full school board nomination process since 2018, when former Mayor Kenney chose his nine appointees to replace the School Reform Commission. It had governed the city school district since 2001, when the state took over the district citing financial and academic distress. Since then, Kenney appointed a few additional members to replace some who resigned.

Lee Huang, a former board member, said Tuesday he would not “sugarcoat” that serving on the board was challenging at times. The position is unpaid, demanding, and comes with intense public scrutiny.

“It was long hours …. and you’ll get yelled at,” Huang said. “That’s part of the job.”

Parker will choose nine people (or request more names if she is not happy with the 27) and send those to City Council, which will hold public hearings. With its approval, the board members will take their seats starting May 1.

In alphabetical order, here’s the list. The mayor’s office provided biographies for each candidate.

  • Sarah-Ashley Andrews (current board member)
  • Nakia Carr
  • Timothy Crowther
  • Crystal Cubbage
  • Leticia Egea-Hinton (current board member)
  • Cindy Farlino
  • Mark Gittelman
  • Cheryl Harper
  • Keola Harrington
  • Michael Henderson
  • Jameika Id-Deen
  • David Irizarry
  • Dominique Johnson
  • Whitney Jones
  • ChauWing Lam (current board member)
  • Letisha Laws
  • Maddie Luebbert
  • Colleen McCauley
  • Cheryl Mobley-Stimpson
  • Wanda Novales
  • Michelle Palmer
  • Lisa Salley (current board member)
  • Marisa Shaaban
  • Joan Stern
  • Reginald Streater (current board president)
  • Cecelia Thompson (current board member)
  • Joyce Wilkerson (current board member)


Carly Sitrin is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat Philadelphia. Contact Carly at csitrin@chalkbeat.org.

Dale Mezzacappa is a senior writer for Chalkbeat Philadelphia, where she covers K-12 schools and early childhood education in Philadelphia. Contact Dale at dmezzacappa@chalkbeat.org.


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