Pittsburgh Public Schools

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet started his first official day as Pittsburgh Public Schools' newest leader by apologizing for the "unintended distraction" caused by allegations of misrepresentation and plagiarism riddling his resume.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board unanimously approved a policy Wednesday night that will allow transgender and gender expansive students, those who identify outside of gender categories, to use pronouns, names and bathrooms they identify with in the coming school year.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

More than half of the 85 registered speakers in an almost four-hour meeting Monday vented to Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education members about new Superintendent Anthony Hamlet.

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Water used for drinking and preparing food at Pittsburgh Public Schools is now being tested for lead.

The Allegheny County Health Department will work with Pittsburgh Public Schools and local water authorities to pinpoint and shut-off dangerous outlets throughout the 70 district facilities. All testing will take place this summer.

Even though there is no federal or state law requiring drinking water to be tested for lead, Pittsburgh Public Schools Chief Operations Officer Ronald Joseph said district officials want to take a proactive approach.

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Advocacy groups representing Pittsburgh Public Schools are calling for a new superintendent search following weeks of controversy surrounding the Board of Education's first choice, Anthony Hamlet. 

The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, the Hill District Education Council, the Black Political Empowerment Project and A+ Schools issued a joint statement on Tuesday:

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Pittsburgh Public Schools board members said they met with new superintendent Anthony Hamlet, a former Florida educator, on Monday to discuss inconsistencies in his resume and accusations of plagiarism.

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Linda Lane has been a force in Pittsburgh Public Schools since she became superintendent in 2010. At the end of June, she’ll be stepping down and stopped by Essential Pittsburgh to talk about her experience in the role and what she's learned.

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The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board is expected to review claims that new Pittsburgh Superintendent Anthony Hamlet plagiarized a phrase in his resume and a statement to the press when his appointment was announced, spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

  Anthony Hamlet admitted he fudged one detail in the five-page resume he used to score Pittsburgh Public Schools top job last month

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State education officials wired Wilkinsburg School District $3 million in emergency funding last week to aid in middle and high school students transitioning to Pittsburgh Public Schools this fall.

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  Pittsburgh Public Schools' new pick for superintendent defended his resume to his hometown newspaper on Friday after press suggested he made "misstatements of exaggerations" about his accomplishments leading Palm Beach County schools.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

  Interim Wilkinsburg High School Principal Shawn Johnston’s voice reverberated through the intercom into bare, empty hallways on the second to last day of school. Packing boxes had arrived in the office.

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Wilkinsburg and Westinghouse sixth, seventh and eighth graders got an early taste of the schools' impending merger at a field day in North Park on Tuesday.

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Though more than 60 percent of the students in Pittsburgh Public Schools are people of color, district officials said eighty-five percent of its teachers are white and primarily women.

Carrick High School junior Trevon Stanton said throughout his education, he’s rarely had a teacher who looks like him. That’s why he’s considering becoming a teacher one day.

First off, it starts with me," Stanton said. "If no one’s going to be the change then I will.”

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A Florida educator and former NFL defensive end will likely be the next to helm Pittsburgh Public Schools. Board members unanimously approved the appointment Wednesday.

Anthony Hamlet works with principals and instructional specialists on school improvement in Palm Beach County, Fla., where he currently serves as director of school accountability and transformation. Hamlet was appointed a five year term for July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2021 with a starting salary of $221,000 a year at the board's Special Legislative Meeting.

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Pittsburgh Public Schools have extended the district's contracts with its teachers union through June 30, 2017.

The previous contract expired last year on June 30, and the sides have been negotiating ever since.

The contract covers about 3,000 teachers, aides and clerical workers.

The school board and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers announced the tentative deal Monday. Terms weren't immediately disclosed.

The teachers will vote on the deal May 16, and the school board must still schedule a vote.

 

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For attorney Aimee Zundel, Pittsburgh Public Schools' student policies need to serve the needs of all students.

"Particularly our at-risk populations and students that are more susceptible to not feeling safe within the school for example,” Zundel said. 

Zundel is working with the district, and its policy committee, to craft a plan to outline specific rights for transgender students. 

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The former Gladstone Middle School building in Hazelwood has sat vacant for 15 years.  

Now it soon could have a new owner and new life.

The Hazelwood Initiative, a neighborhood development group, has signed papers to purchase the building from Pittsburgh Public Schools for $250,000.

The school board in November awarded the Initiative the option to buy the building, and since then the two sides have been finalizing the language of the agreement.

Bill Hildabrand

Staff turnover rates are a consistent problem when recruiting teacher talent. How do you prepare future teachers studying education for the challenges and rigors of urban schooling? 90.5 WESA’s Kevin Gavin posed the question to Bill Hildabrand, seventh grade teacher at Chartiers Valley Middle School, and Lacey Hohl, second grade teacher at Faison Elementary School.

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In Pennsylvania, fourth graders from middle and upper class families are more than twice as likely as their peers from low income families to score advanced or proficient on standardized reading tests, mirroring the nationwide trend. 

Over the last 40 years, family income has overtaken race as the best predictor of student achievement. Among Pittsburgh Public Schools, the general trend holds true. Schools serving more low-income students have lower test scores. But in part two of our three-part Life of Learning series, we report on one public school that has found a strategy for improving student achievement across the board.

Sunnyside Elementary School special education teacher Jennifer Barger said she never realized how powerful data could be, until her students started tracking their own.

The good news: over the last 40 years, the achievement gap between black and white students has narrowed substantially.

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About 50 of the 550 students at University Preparatory School in the Hill District are learning the skills of effective leaders.

Teachers at the school selected students they felt were listened to by their peers. Now they're aiming to have those students lead the way toward a more positive school climate.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

One visiting "Cabaret" performer spent Thursday prepping not for the night's performance but teaching local theater students the finer steps to a dance career.

Musical theater and drama students at CAPA, Pittsburgh’s creative and performing arts magnet school, spent the afternoon learning some of the show’s choreography from Aisling Halpin, who plays “Frenchie” in the production.

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  The Pittsburgh Board of Education has posted the application for the district’s next superintendent, officials announced Friday.

The board held seven community forums in January inviting public input for the district’s next leader after current superintendent Linda Lane chose to let her contract expire in June after five years as superintendent.

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More than 200 Pittsburgh Promise scholars and alumni gathered downtown Wednesday to meet with prospective employers for the annual Career Launch.

Eligible to four-year graduates of Pittsburgh Public high schools, the Pittsburgh Promise pledges to cover a sizeable portion of college tuition for students who maintain high attendance and a grade point average of 2.5.

Pittsburgh Public School’s national search for a new superintendent will be a multi-month, transparent process full of community input, Board President Regina Holley said Monday.

The process will begin in January with seven forums held from 6 to 9 p.m. at schools around the city. Childcare will be provided, and all events will be streamed at pittsupsearch.com. There will also be a dedicated email, voicemail and Twitter feed for public input, she said.

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When students Bishal Rai, Arpun Khadka and Gabriel Sahij walk into Concord Elementary School in Carrick, a welcome sign greets them in English, Spanish and Nepali. 

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Pittsburgh Public Schools is turning to more progressive methods of discipline, after finding that cut and dry methods, like Zero Tolerance, led to too many suspensions.

Back in the ‘90s, many schools started using those methods as a way to motivate kids to behave.

They put police officers in schools, along with metal detectors. They issued harsh punishments to prevent bigger offenses. 

It became a way of doing things, but opponents say rather than getting students to behave, it was just pushing them out of school. Now administrators shy away from those methods.

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Education advocacy group A+ Schools is seeking members for its volunteer review board tasked with overseeing new board members representing Pittsburgh Public Schools.

With three new members sworn in, the Pittsburgh Public School Board has only two members who have served for more than two years. The other four were elected in 2013.

A+ Executive Director Carey Harris said volunteers are city residents prepped by the organization's staffers about current state and national policy.

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