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New Pittsburgh Schools Head Defending Fla. Successes

Sarah Schneider
90.5 WESA

  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.

According to the Palm Beach Post, schools improved, but not at the rate Anthony Hamlet claimed, nor did the graduation rate improve the full 13 points he cited in his initial resume. The document was dated earlier this year and released to the press May 18 when school board members confirmed his appointment in a 9-0 vote.

Brian Perkins, the consultant who helped facilitate board members' nationwide search, told the Post he did not fact-check the finalists' applications. This was Perkins' first national superintendent search contract.

Board President Regina Holley told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Friday that she still expected Hamlet to "do a wonderful job in the district," but that in retrospect, she might've questioned his resume more thoroughly. Holley said last month that board members wanted a former teacher with a commitment to working with students.

“I really take the time to really focus on what student needs are, making sure they have a forum to speak ... and having them shape the vision and mission of the school process as well," Hamlet said in May.

Attempts to reach Hamlet, Perkins, Holley or fellow school board members were not immediately successful.

According to his resume, in-school and out-of-school suspensions at Palm Beach Lakes High School dropped a combined 2,689 during his three-year tenure as principal, from 2011 to 2014. Florida state records cited by the Palm Beach Post show that figure at only 1,035, less than half of Hamlet's claim.

He described the difference to Post reporter Andrew Marra as "a few percentage-point discrepancies." The difference was of little consequence in the full context of his experiences as an educator, Hamlet told the paper.

"With the drastic reduction in (suspensions), with the transformation of the climates and the cultures of schools I have led, the dropouts who I have retrieved and gotten them to graduate, and many children's lives I have positively impacted, I am sure you can find something positive to write about," he wrote in an email to The Post.

Hamlet signed a one-month consulting contract with Pittsburgh Public Schools to "support the transition" before reigning superintendent Linda Lane steps down June 30. He was appointed the same day to a five-year term beginning July 1 through 2021. Hamlet is slated to begin with an annual salary of $210,000.

This post has been updated to reflect Anthony Hamlet's salary of $210,000.

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.
Megan Harris is a writer, editor, photographer and curator for Pittsburgh's NPR News station. She leads editorial coverage for The Confluence, 90.5 WESA's live, one-hour, daily morning news show.
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