WA Charters Names Patrick D’Amelio as New CEO

For Immediate Release | Friday, March 20, 2017
Contact: Maggie Meyers at maggie@wacharters.wpenginepowered.com or 724-263-9826

Public Education Champion Named CEO of Washington State Charter Schools Association

Patrick D’Amelio Brings his Energy to Growing State’s Charter Public School Sector
D’Amelio Led Widespread Expansion of STEM Education Across State

SEATTLE—The Washington State Charter Schools Association’s (WA Charters) Board of Directors announced today that it has hired Patrick D’Amelio to lead the organization as Chief Executive Officer.

D’Amelio, who has a long track record of increasing high-quality educational opportunities for students in Washington, comes to WA Charters with more than 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience in education and youth development – and a deep respect among Washington’s education, policy and business communities. Calling him “a perfect fit for the next chapter of WA Charters,” the organization’s board of directors shared their excitement for D’Amelio’s deep understanding of the state’s complex public education landscape and his commitment to improving the lives all students.

“I look forward to broadening the reach and deepening the impact of high-quality, innovative public school options for students and families across Washington,” said D’Amelio, who starts in his new role on May 1, 2017. “I am thrilled to be joining our state’s charter public school movement at such a critical moment in its early history. The voters, the legislature, and the court have all spoken. Now it’s time to focus on increasing awareness of—and access to—our thriving charter public school sector.”

Consistent with WA Charters’ mission – to advocate for and support high quality charter public schools that meet the needs of historically underserved students – D’Amelio has dedicated his career to bringing educational opportunities and critical developmental support to children, particularly those who are furthest from opportunity.

D’Amelio will be coming to WA Charters following a highly successful five-year post as CEO at Washington STEM. When D’Amelio joined Washington STEM in 2012, statewide awareness of STEM education was low, at just 32%. Today, 94% of Washington voters believe that every child in the state should have access to a high-quality STEM education in Washington’s K-12 public schools. Under D’Amelio’s leadership, Washington STEM has raised and leveraged more than $50 million through connections with private and public donors, the impact of which has been an extraordinary increase in the number of students able to access STEM education, particularly those in low-income communities and from communities of color. Additionally, during D’Amelio’s tenure, Washington STEM has established and maintained 10 regional STEM networks that connect business, education, and community leaders to support STEM education at the local level.

D’Amelio’s work over the past two decades in the nonprofit space reflects his unwavering commitment to ensuring that every young person has an opportunity to succeed in life. As President and CEO for the Alliance for Education, D’Amelio executed strategic planning to reframe the mission of helping students in Seattle Public Schools achieve academic success, and he worked with varying interests to support their common vision. During his tenure at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, D’Amelio oversaw the pairing of caring adult mentors with young people while growing programs, increasing revenues, and balancing budgets.

With D’Amelio at the helm, WA Charters is poised to continue delivering innovative and equitable outcomes for students and to drive meaningful change across the broader public school system, as the organization focuses on increasing the number of high-quality public school options for Washington students.

D’Amelio is taking the reins at WA Charters on the heels of a major legal win. On February 17, King County Superior Court Judge John Chun ruled to uphold Washington’s new charter school law on all counts. Currently, the state’s existing eight charter public schools serve more than 1,600 students in King County, Tacoma, and Spokane. By Fall 2017, with the expansion of each existing school, and the opening of three more new authorized schools in Southeast Seattle, West Seattle, and Walla Walla, more than 2,500 Washington students will be attending charter public schools.

About Washington’s Public Charter Schools
Charter schools are a type of public school, approved and overseen by a state or district authorizer. Like all public schools, they do not charge tuition, they are open to all students, and they are publicly funded. However, charter public schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. In exchange for greater accountability, teachers and principals are given more flexibility to customize their teaching methods and curriculum to improve student learning.

Washington’s charter public schools are helping to close the education equity gap. A majority of charter public school students in Washington are students of color, as compared to 43 percent statewide, and a majority of charter public school students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, as compared to 45 percent statewide. 15 percent of the students we serve receive special education services, as compared to the statewide average of 13.5 percent. Reflecting the diversity of the students they serve, 39 percent of our schools’ founding teachers identified as people of color, whereas the the statewide average for nonwhite teachers is 13 percent.

In some communities, traditional public schools are meeting the needs of local students. But in other communities – particularly communities of color that struggle with poverty – they are not. According to 2015-16 academic results, students at Washington’s charter public schools are making impressive gains in reading and math.