Statement of Purpose
The mission of the Keystone Center for Charter Change at PSBA (Pennsylvania School Boards Association) is to build support for the development and enactment of legislation that would provide regulatory and funding changes to Pennsylvania’s 23-year-old Charter School Law. We advocate for fiscal and regulatory reforms that level the playing field and treat all public schools fairly. The focus of the Keystone Center for Charter Change will support Pennsylvania’s public-school districts. Our work will include active advocacy on behalf of charter reform, timely research, increased awareness, along with education and thought leadership on charter accountability.
The center is managed by a dedicated director and guided by the input of an advisory board and participants of the center’s residency program. The center is operated by PSBA and funded through a grant from the Pennsylvania Public Education Foundation (PaPEF).
Lawrence A. Feinberg, Director
Lawrence A. Feinberg has served as a school board director since 1999 and board president since 2017. A vocal advocate for public education, he has provided testimony before both the PA House and Senate Education Committees, the Republican and Democratic Policy Committees, the auditor general, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the Governor’s Task Force on School Cost Reduction. Feinberg founded the Keystone State Education Coalition in 2006 and has published the PA Education Policy Roundup newsletter reaching more than 4,000 state policymakers daily since 2012. He served on the PSBA Board of Directors and Board of Governors. For many years, he was also a member of the National School Boards Association’s Federal Relations Network, regularly meeting with members of Congress to discuss federal policy issues and legislation. Most recently, he served as a PSBA Advocacy Ambassador covering 97 school districts in southeastern PA.
Phone: (717) 506 – 2450 ext. 3420
Keystone Center for Charter Change Advisory Board
Roberta M. Marcus
Chair, Keystone Center for Charter Change Advisory Board, PSBA Consultant in Residence
Roberta M. Marcus is a member of the Pennsylvania Public Education Foundation board of directors, a longtime advocate for public education and a past PSBA president. She served as a board director and board president at Parkland School District. She is a Retired PSBA Accredited School Director Leader (ASDL-R) and served on the Commonwealth Education Blueprint Steering Committee. Marcus earned the Master School Board Director designation from PSBA, is a member of the Allwein Society for her outstanding advocacy efforts and a recipient of the Chief Executive Officer’s Distinguished Service Pin. She currently acts as the association’s consultant in residence, advising and contributing on a wide range of strategic and educational initiatives.
Senior director of government affairs, Pennsylvania School Boards Association
Jonathan Berger joined the government affairs team for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association in June of 2017, where he currently acts as the senior director of government affairs. In this role Jonathan is responsible for the development and execution of state and federal legislative strategy as he advocates to achieve the association’s public policy goals. Jonathan specializes in education policy and government relations strategy. His leadership has driven the successful passage of numerous laws including major reforms to the basic and special education formulas, state graduation requirements, school safety and security, school constructions, educator evaluations, and support for financially-distressed school districts.
Susan DeJarnatt, Esq.
Professor of law, Temple University Beasley School of Law
Attorney Susan DeJarnatt is a professor of law at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, having joined the faculty in 1996. She has written extensively on several aspects of public education reform, including how parents exercise choice over their children’s education, the impact of school closures in Philadelphia on families and communities, and the finances and governance and disciplinary policies of charter schools. She was a contributing author to The Fight for America’s Schools: Grassroots Organizing in Education. Most recently her scholarly focus has been on the need for charter reform in Pennsylvania.
Director of Policy, School District of Philadelphia
Sarah currently serves as director of policy for the School District of Philadelphia. In this role, she leads the district’s state and federal government relations efforts. She works with legislative, executive and community partners to proactively identify and strategically address state and federal public policy issues central to the district’s operations, financial health and strategic vision. Additionally, she is an adjunct professor in the Public Administration program at Villanova University, where she teaches decision making and public policy to master level students. Prior to joining the School District of Philadelphia, she served as secretary of policy and planning for Governor Wolf where she led the development and implementation of the governor’s policy agenda. Her background includes significant experience in both the government and nonprofit sectors. Sarah has a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.P.A. from Villanova University.
Board second vice president, Pittsburgh Public Schools
For more than a decade, Terry Kennedy, a former software engineer, has been an active member of the parent-teacher organizations at several Pittsburgh Public Schools and has chaired various committees. Kennedy is also a member of the Pittsburgh Local Task Force on the Right to Education, co-chair of the High School Issues Committee and chair of Accessibility Committee.
Dr. Robert O’Donnell
Superintendent, State College Area School District
Dr. Bob O’Donnell has been superintendent of the State College Area School District since 2011. He has been a champion for charter school legislation reform. Under his leadership, the district investigated and discovered former Wonderland Charter School’s failure to provide critical services to students with special needs, which led to the school’s closing. In 2021, he led a movement among 11 school districts, creating a joint resolution calling for charter school reform legislation. At present, he serves on the board of Leaders for Educational Accountability and Reform Network (LEARN), a statewide coalition of school superintendents working to secure improvements in Pennsylvania’s charter school sector.
Allison S. Petersen, Esq.
Shareholder, Levin Legal Group
Attorney Allison S. Petersen is a shareholder in the Levin Legal Group. Since joining the firm in 2001, Petersen has represented public school entities on all facets of education law and in litigation. A large part of her practice involves representing school entities in the federal and state trial and appellate courts and before administrative agencies. She has also handled a multitude of transactional matters, including the negotiation and preparation of multimillion-dollar transportation contracts and commercial contracts with various vendors and service providers.
Dr. Damaris Rau
Superintendent, School District of Lancaster
With more than 35 years of experience in public education, Dr. Damaris Rau is a seasoned veteran when it comes to setting the standard for student achievement. Known for her passion in urban education and commitment to equity for all students, Dr. Rau has a proven track record of reducing the achievement gap, increasing graduation rates, expanding early childhood programs, implementing programs to reduce bullying behaviors and successfully turning around low-performing schools.
Dr. James Scanlon
Superintendent, West Chester Area School District
Dr. Jim Scanlon has served as superintendent of the West Chester Area School District since 2009. During his tenure, he helped develop programs such as full-day kindergarten, blended learning classes at the high school, a 1:1 technology program, and a K-12 cyber program. He has also focused efforts on developing the district’s equity teams to help close the achievement gap between white students and students of color. He was a founding charter school board member and helped to write the charter for the 21st Century Cyber Charter School, the highest achieving cyber charter school in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Ron Sofo
Former CEO/principal, City Charter High School, Pittsburgh, and former superintendent, Freedom Area School District
Dr. Ron Sofo was CEO/principal of City Charter High School, one of the most innovative and effective urban, public high schools in the country, from 2012 to 2018. Prior to this role, he was superintendent at the Freedom Area School District from 2002 to 2012, following nine years as assistant superintendent. He also served as assistant to the superintendent of the Pittsburgh School District. He co-authored a book entitled No Bad Schools and currently owns and operates Human Engagement for Learning & Productivity (HELP) as a transformational education design consultant.
Dr. Brian White
Superintendent, Butler Area School District
Dr. Brian White is the superintendent of Butler Area School District, where he facilitated a comprehensive strategic planning process leading to the creation of the Butler Area School District Strategic Plan. He also has extensive experience with charter schools. Not only has he been involved in the creation of several charter schools, he has also worked to secure funding, managed their operations and served as a consultant. As a member of the Keystone Center for Charter Change Advisory Board, he hopes to advocate for change that will ultimately benefit both Pennsylvania’s public schools and charter schools.
School director, Avon Grove School District
Bill Wood is a lifelong educator and supporter of public schools. He is a professional teaching artist, presenter of educational assembly programs, as well as a leader of student workshops and teacher professional development trainings. He also facilitates team–building programs that focus on social and emotional learning skills for youth, college and corporate groups. He served on the board of the Avon Grove Charter School in 2011–12, and currently is a board member of the Avon Grove School District. He was recently a participant of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association Charter Reform Task Force.
Ex-officio member - Dr. Art Levinowitz
President, Governing Board, Pennsylvania School Boards Association
Dr. Art Levinowitz has been involved in education for his entire professional life. He was a teacher for eight years, employed as an administrator for more than 25 years for the New Jersey State Department of Education, and has served on Upper Dublin School Board for 21 years, including five as president. For the past 11 years he also has served as the president of the joint operating committee of the Eastern Center for the Arts and Technology. He currently is a member of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association Finance Committee and a board director for the Pennsylvania Public Education Foundation.