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Pittsburgh Public Schools Tap Florida Educator For Top Job

Sarah Schneider
90.5 WESA
Final candidate for superintendent Anthony Hamlet answers questions Wednesday.

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.

The board also approved a consulting contract with the West Palm Beach native for June 1 to June 30 to "support the transition," according to a press release. 

Hamlet described himself as a transformational leader and unique fit for the position. During a national search, board members said they wanted someone with a commitment to working with students.

“I really take the time to really focus on what student needs are,” Hamlet said. “And making sure they have a forum to speak."

As a former teacher, principal and behavioral specialist, Hamlet said he likes to create student forums that foster cooperation and leadership both within the school and across their communities."

"And having them shape the vision and mission of the school process as well,” he said.

School Board President Regina Holley said it was most important to have a former teacher. The board would not have hired someone who didn’t have that experience, she said.

“Because (teachers) actually know the students,” she said. “They know what should go on in a classroom – the practices, the procedures, how to deal with parents. And really, not just how to deal with that but deal with central office, as well.”

The district launched a national search for a leader earlier this year after current superintendent Linda Lane announced plans to retire when her contract expires June 30. Lane became superintendent in January 2011 after four years as deputy superintendent.

The board faced heavy criticism in December when it hired an untested firm, Connecticut-based Perkins Consulting, to conduct the search. The company is headed by Brian Perkins, who is the director of the Urban Education Leadership Program at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Seven community forums were held in January to invite input for qualifications of the next district leader. From those forums, the job description sought an administrator with a background in education, previous leadership in a similar urban district and a demonstrated commitment to diversity.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said in a statement he looks forward to collaborating with the district and new leadership. Peduto credited Lane for the creation of the city's inaugural Education Task Force report and emphasized the importance of afterschool time, increased need for school-to-city public safety coordination and financial savings created through the sharing of municipal and school services.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Hamlet was the principal of three schools in the District of Palm Beach County from 2007 to 2011. He also has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami in general studies and a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Nova Southeastern University, where he later received a doctoral degree in urban education and leadership.

Hamlet was also the NFL's 10th-round, 263rd draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks in 1992, and sat one season with the Indianapolis Colts in 1993. A single father, Hamlet has one son, who Perkins said plans to attend college on full academic and athletic scholarships.

Sarah Schneider is WESA's education reporter. From early learning to higher education, Sarah is interested in students and educators working to create more equitable systems. Sarah previously worked with news outlets in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Idaho. She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she worked for the school newspaper, the Daily Egyptian.
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