City Schools Board Votes To Keep New Superintendent

Jun 29, 2016

Pittsburgh Public School Board President Regina Holley listens to board member Sylvia Wilson Wednesday during a special meeting. Wilson defended the board's appointment of Superintendent Anthony Hamlet.
Credit Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board voted against a motion to rescind newly hired Superintendent Anthony Hamlet’s contract Wednesday night after a month of scrutiny over discrepancies in his resume.

In a 7-2 vote, Pittsburgh Public Schools board members voted to keep Hamlet as the district’s next leader. The former Florida educator will be sworn in for his first day as superintendent on Friday.

Board members met Wednesday to discuss the results of a nearly two-week-long private investigation into Hamlet’s resume by former prosecutor Laurel Brandstetter. The board then met publicly for a vote on a motion brought by Terry Kennedy, who represents Oakland, Greenfield and the South Side. Kennedy said Hamlet was her first choice, but the investigation raised more questions about his past experience.

“While I truly believe Dr. Hamlet is a good person and has good intentions, I wonder if he can be an effective leader of this district given the issues uncovered,” she said. “Will he be respected in the role of superintendent by the students, staff and the community? I cannot answer that question for you. However, my belief is Dr. Hamlet will have a difficult time leading this district.”  

The board has met several times privately since Hamlet’s May 18 hire and brought in a Downtown-based attorney to investigate several allegations. Media outlets have reported instances of plagiarism and that numbers cited in his resume were at odds with Florida state records.

Board President Regina Holley said Hamlet clarified those numbers for board members and the line suspected of plagiarism was from a speech written for him more than a year ago. She said the board unanimously chose Hamlet for his past accomplishments.

“Despite the questions that arose, Dr. Hamlet has proven success with positively impacting a school district’s most vulnerable population – youths who need help with learning,” she said.

Holley said Hamlet told her the words he used in his resume under the section titled “educational philosophy” are sentiments he has used throughout his career. Pittsburgh media found that line verbatim in a 2015 Washington Post editorial.

“However, he also made it clear that he ultimately takes responsibility for what he included in his resume and he regrets the unintended consequences,” Holley said.

Several education groups, including Great Public Schools, have said they support the board’s decision, while others, including A+ Schools and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, have called for a new superintendent search.

Community members listen as board members discuss Superintendent Anthony Hamlet's appointment.
Credit Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh School Board member Kevin Carter said after several meetings and discussions with Hamlet, he believes the superintendent had no ill intentions in the errors that appeared on his resume.

“Right here we have an opportunity to keep a guy who is here not because of the adults in the room,” he said. “We have all been educated, we’ve all received our education. But, we’re here to hire a guy that is here for the students.”

In a statement, Hamlet said he is committed to addressing the needs of Pittsburgh students.

“I regret the concern this situation has caused, and I apologize to the parents and communities for this unintended distraction,” he said. “My focus has always been the children.”

Hamlet will be sworn in at 9 a.m. Friday at the district’s main Oakland office. He said he will soon announce a transition team.

“(I) plan to invite leaders, whether they’ve been supportive, unsupportive or simply have had concerns, to encourage all to work together for the best interest of our children.” 

District Solicitor Ira Weiss said a redacted version of the investigator's report will be available Thursday.