What We Do

The Atlanta Public School’s (APS) Office of Charter & Partner Schools provides district monitoring and support for the APS's charter and partner schools, and engages with them in collaboration and thought partnership.

Charter Schools

Charter schools in APS are authorized by the Atlanta Board of Education and the State Board of Education.  The first APS charter school – Charles Drew Charter School – opened in 2001. There are 19 charter schools in APS as of the 2022-23 school year.  The Office of Charter & Partner Schools conducts a charter petition process each year, reviewing requests to establish new charters or renew existing charters that are coming to term and then makes recommendations to the APS superintendent regarding the viability of each charter request.

Partner Schools

Partner schools represent one strategy to achieve APS’s commitment to quickly transform low performing schools and provide a high quality education to Atlanta’s students.  Partner schools are neighborhood schools whose management has been transitioned to a qualified non-profit organization and who are accountable to the Atlanta Board of Education for results defined in their contracts.  The first partner school –Thomasville Heights Elementary School – transitioned to management by Purpose Built Schools Atlanta in August 2016. There are 5 partner schools in APS as of the 2022-23 school year (Thomasville Heights is temporarily closed). Each partner school serves all students in the district’s defined attendance zone for the school and enrollment is open to any student living within that zone.

Who We Are

Matt Underwood

Executive Director | Email | 404.802.2815

Matt has served as Executive Director of the Office of Charter & Partner Schools since January 2019.  Previously, Matt worked as a principal and as Executive Director for 12 years at the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (ANCS), an APS charter school that was named Georgia Charter School of the Year in 2015.  He has also taught in middle and high school in Georgia, Illinois, New York City, and Massachusetts. Matt has a B.A. from Northwestern University and a M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He lives with his wife and kids in the Ormewood Park neighborhood.  He has a goal of seeing a game at every Major League Baseball stadium--16 down so far!

Wendy Angelety

Financial Analyst | Email | 404.802.2870

Wendy started with Atlanta Public Schools in June 2012 and has worked with both schools and departments as a part of the district’s finance team.  She comes to the Office of Charter & Partner Schools with a background in budget and finance, and she also holds experience with state policy and fiscal analysis after serving for six years in the Governor’s Office of Budget and Planning prior to coming to APS.  Wendy holds a B.A. in political science from the University of New Orleans and a M.A. in organizational management from the University of Phoenix.  Wendy lives in southeast Atlanta with her husband and two children, and as an amateur baker, she enjoys making homemade treats with her daughter.

Taylor L. Garcia

Performance Data Manager | Email | 404.802.2886

Taylor started with Atlanta Public Schools in August 2021 and serves as Performance Data Manager for the Office of Charter + Partner Schools. She comes to the Office of Charter + Partner Schools with a background in education, project management, and data analytics.  A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Taylor began her career in education as a teacher in the Dominican Republic before moving back to Arkansas and working as a special projects manager for Pulaski County. Taylor has also taught in public schools in Miami, Florida and Little Rock.  Taylor earned her B.A. in History from Dartmouth College and her M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  She speaks Spanish and Portuguese, and she and her family lives in the metro Atlanta area.

Shonda Goldsmith

Project Manager | Email | 404.802.2793

Shonda started with Atlanta Public Schools in May 2022 and serves as a project manager for the Office of Charter + Partner Schools.  In this role,  Shonda is primarily responsible for managing compliance-related tasks for charter and partner schools, including facilitating the charter start-up petition and renewal process.  Before coming to APS, Shonda served as the Title I Assistant Director with the Florida Department of Education.  Prior to that, Shonda worked with the FDOE’s general counsel as a policy analyst with the Office of Early Learning.  Shonda was also a paralegal for 15 years.  She holds a M.S. in criminal justice with a minor in education.  Shonda has three children—a daughter who is an art therapy teacher in Florida, a son who is a graduate student at Northwestern University, and another daughter who is a student at North Carolina A&T.  Shonda enjoys family gatherings, traveling, and cooking.  

Dihanne Hayes

Program Director | Email | 404.802.2857

Dihanne returned to Atlanta Public Schools in March 2015, having previously worked for the district for over 12 years. Dihanne is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and a member of the 2019/20 Education Policy Fellowship Program cohort. Her professional experience is in program and project management, primarily focused on operations and business management. She oversees the buy back services program and also has facilitated the transition of all partner schools. Dihanne has a B.A. from Columbia College and an MPA from Troy University. She is married with two daughters and lives in the City of South Fulton. She is an avid gardener, loves a good jazz festival and to travel.

Nicklaus Khan

Special Education & Student Support Services Coordinator | Email | 404.802.2829

Nick serves as the Special Education Coordinator for Atlanta Public Schools’ Office of Charter & Partner Schools, providing oversight, guidance, and support to the districts’ charter and partner schools.  He is a native of Trinidad raised in Jamaica Queens, New York. He has fourteen years of experience in the field of special education. Much of those years were spent in the classroom as a special education teacher before taking on the role of special education lead teacher supporting two elementary schools in Atlanta Public Schools. Nick holds a B.A. from the University at Buffalo, M.Ed. from the University at West Georgia in educational leadership, and Ed.S. from Georgia State University in educational leadership. 

Corliss L. Melvin

Technology Coordinator | Email | 404.802.2876

Corliss is an Atlanta native (born & raised) and is a proud alum of Atlanta Public Schools.  For her entire career, Corliss has been employed with APS, different positions within the Information Technology Department supporting various applications/systems for both employees and students.  Corliss joined the Office of Charter & Partner Schools in April 2018 to support schools' integration into district systems.  She holds a B.S. from Alabama State University in Computer Information Systems and a M.S. in Education from Nova Southeastern University in Curriculum, Instruction and Technology.   

Judith Walker

Project Facilitator | Email | 404.802.2864

Judith serves as the Project Facilitator for the Office of Charter & Partner Schools. She has extensive experience in skillful project coordination and optimizing operational and team achievement.  As Project Facilitator, Judith provides proactive support for a range of key projects and activities.  Judith earned a bachelor's degree in Business from Capella University with a specialization in project management.  Outside of work, Judith enjoys preparing natural herbal remedies, gardening, painting, and spending time with her family.