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Education

‘Time To Move On’: Pittsburgh School Board President On Superintendent’s Departure

Sylvia Wilson School Board
Sarah Schneider
/
90.5 WESA
Sylvia Wilson, center, during a 2019 school board meeting.

Pittsburgh Public Schools Board President Sylvia Wilson calls Superintendent Anthony Hamlet’s departure “unfortunate, but necessary," and she makes no apologies for a severance package that has raised eyebrows.

She said on Thursday — the third day of the school year — that it was time to move on and focus on educating the district’s students.

“We need to get back to allow those people who are the educators to do their job,” she said.

Hamlet was cited last month for state ethics violations, and was ordered to pay back nearly $8,000 and forfeit 14 vacation days valued at $12,300. The investigation found that he improperly accepted travel reimbursements and made errors in vacation tracking and on financial disclosure forms.

Wilson said that Hamlet chose to resign because the fallout surrounding the investigation was a distraction.

“He stepped aside to allow for us to move forward as a district to do the job that we need to do,” she said.

While a few associated with the Western Pennsylvania Black Political Assembly spoke in support of Hamlet Tuesday, his resignation was announced the following morning.

Hamlet didn’t specifically address why he was leaving in his resignation letter to the board but said that “in light of current circumstances … now is the time for my tenure to come to an end.”

Wilson was one of the seven board members that approved extending Hamlet’s contract last August. Per the new contract, Hamlet will receive nearly $400,000 in severance. Wilson said the package was fair.

“It just makes it seem so horrible to some because of the amount,” she said. “But it’s a typical severance package that’s in his contract.”

As for the interim appointment, Wilson said that, in her opinion appointing an internal candidate is the smart move. The board will begin a search process in December once newly-elected board members are sworn in.

“To bring somebody in from outside … that person would have to then take time to learn the district, know what’s going on and look at the system and see what’s happening,” she said. “That would stall and prevent us from at least trying to move on smoothly.”