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Newly Selected Pittsburgh Superintendent Defends Resume Discrepancies

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

The former Florida educator gave a presentation Tuesday showing how he came up with figures supporting his role as a "transformational leader" after media reports surfaced last week accusing Hamlet of overstating or misrepresenting his previous successes

“It is unfortunate we have begun this way," he said. "But I believe today I have answered these questions. I look forward to working with the board, schools, community, families and more importantly the students to continue some of the great work already taking place in the district as well as bringing what I know to have proven impact on learning of all students at all levels.”

Hamlet’s hometown newspaper the Palm Beach Post first reported discrepancies suggesting Hamlet exaggerated figures about his accomplishments leading Palm Beach County schools. According to state figures cited in the report, schools improved, but not at the rate Hamlet claimed in his initial resume given to reporters May 18, the same day school board members unanimously confirmed his appointment.

Hamlet said his initial assertion that overall school ratings improved from an F to a C was false and clarified his findings regarding fewer in-school and out-of-school student suspensions.

Some improvements had already begun before he took over in 2009 as principal of John F. Kennedy Middle School in Palm Beach County, he said.

“I was the fourth principal in that tumultuous year,” he said. “I made an error that JFK was not an F but it was a D. It went from a D to a C. My apologies.”

In his first year, the school was rated one of the 13 worst schools in Florida, Hamlet said.

Pittsburgh School Board President Regina Holley said neither the board nor Brian Perkins, the consultant tasked with finding Hamlet, asked about specific numbers during the interview process. This was Perkins' first national superintendent search contract.

“We got just what we asked for from the consultant,” she said. “He vetted him, he told us what he had done. We then did due diligence in interviewing him and asking him the pertinent questions about achievement. We didn’t ask specifically about numbers; we asked about achievement.”

Hamlet also fought the Post’s claim that the graduation rate during his tenure as principal of Palm Beach Lakes High School did not improve 13 points as cited in his resume. Hamlet's totals were derived from five-year graduation rates, including summer students, he said.

“As many educators know, we have more information at the school level related to progress of our students,” he said. “(Figures) differ at the state level based on when the information was taken. At the school site, we capture students who graduate through the summer, working with struggling students who have life circumstances, who are different learners and don’t learn as fast as others and need more time.”

Holley said board members are satisfied with Hamlet's answers and any further conversation is a distraction.

“The (newspaper) had one set of numbers, the state had another set of numbers, the federal government had another set of numbers," she said. "So he had to tell us what numbers he used and how he used them to support the needs of the children.”

Hamlet said, in future, candidates for employment with Pittsburgh Public Schools will undergo a more careful and detailed review process “since it will be highly scrutinized." 

"We’ll make sure to have those data points on there with references,” he said, gesturing to slides explaining data cited in his own resume. “Like I’ve provided my references here as well, I’ll make sure that happens so there’s not this issue again.”

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.