Pittsburgh Public Schools Board

Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers / submitted

The vast majority of members of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers who voted Monday authorized the union to call a strike.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Beginning in the 2018 school year, students below the third grade in Pittsburgh Public Schools will not be suspended for nonviolent offenses.

Board members and advocacy groups have pushed for the policy change for several months. According to the local advocacy group, the Education Rights Network, students below third grade missed nearly 800 days of school last year due to suspensions. A disproportionate number of those students were black. The group received that information from a Right To Know request.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A committee tasked with finding alternatives to suspending Pittsburgh students below third grade for non-violent offenses says the district needs more counselors, social workers and de-escalation training.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools and the union representing its teachers and paraprofessionals are continuing negotiations as employees begin their fifth month working under a contract that expired at the end of June.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The contract for nearly 3,000 Pittsburgh Public School Teachers and paraprofessionals expired Friday. Negotiations began in the fall between the district and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.

Union president Nina Esposito-Visgitis said she’s disappointed, but hopeful for a contract by the start of the school year.  

“We’re going to have a new school year, we have a lot of great initiatives with community schools, (Career and Technical Education), early childhood," she said. "I don’t want any distractions because we have a lot of work to do.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

By eighth grade, Christian Carter had been suspended from school a dozen times. The first time was in 3rd grade for what he described as questioning his teacher. Most were for one or two days.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Just a few months after Pennsylvania approved its charter school law, a trailblazing Pittsburgh Public educator stood in front of the school board on a November night in 1997.

Helen Faison urged board members to approve the charter for the Urban Academy, a school that would operate independently from the district. It would remain public with open enrollment and the public school district would pay for students to attend it.

Chris Stalnaker / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools has aggressively marketed its vacant school buildings for the last five years. It’s sold 13 in that time and put out a request for proposals in January for the remaining nine. The district gave organizations two months to figure out a development plan.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

For the third straight year, the Pittsburgh Public School’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a general budget without a tax increase.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools’ new Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, now a month into the job, said student and teacher input will be essential to the district's strategic plan going forward. 

In an update to the school board Tuesday, he called the first phase of his 90-day transition plan, “a listening tour.”

“We must focus on teacher input and best practices when we consider introducing more research-based, proven models that drive student outcomes,” Hamlet said. “But, you must do this by a bottom-up approach with our best teachers taking a leadership role in the conversation.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board approved two contracts with separate consulting groups to help new Superintendent Anthony Hamlet and district staff develop a strategic plan for the next five years.

Ronald Joseph, chief operations officer for the district, said it’s standard practice for a new leader to have an unbiased third-party look at the needs of the organization. He called both contracts – totaling $274,000 – economical solutions for an in-depth analysis and forming a strategic plan.

alamobasement / Flickr

Pittsburgh Public Schools board members will decide Wednesday if the district will move forward with a plan to provide social services to students and the communities it serves.

It would follow the community schools model which provides students with equitable access to programs and services like medical care, psychological services, access to a food bank, English as a second language training or work education programs, all in a familiar building: a public school. 

Governor Wolf Administration / Flickr

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board will vote later this month on a policy that would allow nurses and school police to administer the drug naloxone, also known as Narcan, in the event someone on school grounds overdoses from opioids.

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.

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.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

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.