JSP Student Profile

Kelsey Mayo


Year: Doctorate in JSP

Email: kwmayo@berkeley.edu


University of Mississippi, MA in Curriculum and Instruction (Mississippi Teacher Corps)
University of Cambridge (UK), MPhil in Modern History
Princeton University, AB in Classics (magna cum laude)


Law & Education
School Choice and Charter Schools
Sociology of Law
Education Policy and Implementation
Qualitative Methods


National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellow (2014-2015)
National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, Law and Social Sciences Division (2014-2015)
Dean's Normative Time Fellowship (Spring 2014, Fall 2014)
JSP Summer Grant (Summer 2014)
JSP Admissions and Fellowships Committee Research Stipend, (Spring/Summer 2013)
JSP Continuing Student Fellowship (Spring 2013)
Plus Fellow, Center for Cities and Schools, UC Berkeley (2011-2012)
Regents Intern Graduate Fellowship, UC Berkeley (2009-11)
Cambridge Overseas Trust Scholarship (2005-06)
Overseas Research Scholarship, Cambridge (2005-06)

Employment Experiences:

Research Fellow, Center for Cities and Schools, UC Berkeley (2010-2012)
Latin and Public Speaking teacher, Jackson Public Schools, Jackson, Mississippi, 2007-2009
Latin teacher, Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Massachusetts, 2006-2007

Dissertation Abstract:

My dissertation examines the role of law in shaping the context and conditions of charter school authorization in California, the state with the largest and most diverse population of charter schools in the nation. Although there exists a well-developed literature on the performance and place of charter schools within market-based education reforms, there have been few empirical studies of how the parties relevant to charter governance encounter, invoke, and use the law in the vital moments of school authorization, renewal, and closure. Building on previous research that examines the interpretation and construction of law in organizational contexts, the underlying argument guiding the project is that relevant educational law both shapes how actors view charter authorization and is shaped by encounters with alternative understandings regarding the role of charter schools– understandings emanating from educational practice, the market, or elsewhere- that inform the bureaucratic authorization process.

The study uses a multi-method approach with two phases: 1) quantitative analysis of the current and historical population of California charter schools to reveal patterns and types of school establishment, challenged or denied renewal, closure, and legal appeal, with a focus on the participation of legal professionals, and 2) qualitative case studies of specific authorization actions,including analysis of charter petitions and authorization documents and in-depth interviews of the parties to charter authorization. To the field of education research, this project brings needed sociolegal attention to law within educational organizations, spaces characterized by the retention of public accountability in the face of increasing privatization. By focusing on the ways actors invoke, make use of, and extend the law in the processes of charter school authorization, this study will have important implications for charter operators, the bodies legally tasked with charter oversight, and for policymakers as they evaluate the place of charter schools within educational reform.