Ashley Baquero has been named director of the Office of Charter Schools.
Baquero has served as interim director of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) office that oversees the state’s more than 200 charter schools since early July. Her tenure as director began Tuesday.
State Superintendent Catherine Truitt appointed Baquero to serve as the interim director after Dave Machado stepped down to become the North Carolina state director for Charter Schools USA (CSUSA), a for-profit charter school management company based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
According to its website, CSUSA is one of the largest education management companies in the nation, serving 75,000 students in nearly 100 schools in five states.
Baquero has worked in the state charter school office for more than four years. Primary duties in her most recent job as a consultant included serving as the liaison between the office and the Charter School Advisory board and overseeing risk assessments, the charter school ready-to-open process, charter school application reviews and annual reports to the State Board of Education and General Assembly.
According to an internal NCDPI memo announcing the promotion, Baquero has worked as a middle school language arts teacher, team leader, and project manager for schools in North Carolina and Georgia. Before launching a career in education, Baquero worked as an attorney representing municipalities in land use and employment matters.
The state’s system of charter schools saw steady growth under Machado’s leadership. When he took over as OCS director in 2016, the state had 166 charter schools. That number grew to more than 200 throughout his tenure, which followed the General Assembly’s 2011 decision to lift the 100-school cap of charters.
Twenty non-profit charter school boards submitted applications to open schools on or before the April 29, 2022 application deadline. Five are seeking approval to open in the 2023-24 school year with another 15 aiming to open in the 2024-25 school year.
Charter schools serve more than 130,000 students in North Carolina. There were approximately 82,000 students enrolled in state charters in 2016, the year Machado assumed directorship of the OCS.