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Education

Pittsburgh Public Schools Board Approves Superintendent’s Resignation

Anthony Hamlet
90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board formally accepted Superintendent Anthony Hamlet’s resignation on Tuesday evening. The vote was nearly unanimous, as eight of the nine board members voted to accept Hamlet’s resignation, while one abstained.

School board president Sylvia Wilson thanked Hamlet for his work in the district, and stressed that the board’s decision was not a result of outside pressure from groups that either supported or criticized Hamlet.

“I know that there’s been a lot of controversy,” Wilson said. “I don’t want anyone to think that this pressure had anything to do with our vote. It was based on Dr. Hamlet’s decision to resign at this time.”

On Tuesday, the board also voted to approve Hamlet’s $399,687 severance package, equivalent to one year's salary and benefits. Hamlet’s resignation is effective Oct. 1. The board will select an interim superintendent by Sept. 29.

Hamlet submitted his resignation on Sept. 8, just two days into the school year, after an investigation found he violated the state ethics law. According to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission report, Hamlet was cited for five ethics violations dating back to 2019. It found that he accepted improper travel reimbursements and honorariums and made errors in financial disclosure forms.

Hamlet was ordered to repay nearly $8,000, including $7,000 in reimbursement to the district and The Pittsburgh Promise, and he forfeited 14 vacation days valued at $12,300. Prior to Hamlet’s resignation, the school board met in private several times to discuss the ethics violations, which Hamlet and his lawyer, David Berardinelli, said were a result of negligence.

City Controller Michael Lamb, a longtime critic of Hamlet who first filed the ethics complaint against him, said the idea of Hamlet keeping his role as superintendent was “ridiculous.”

“The Pittsburgh Board of Public Education must now make appropriate changes to leadership to allow the district to get back to the important business of focusing on student achievement. City families and children deserve nothing less,” Lamb said in a statement after the report was released.

PPS parents criticized Hamlet earlier this summer after he proposed delaying the start of the school year two weeks to give the district more time to deal with a bus driver shortage. Some parents protested the later start date, and parents, students and staff testified to the board about the short notice and lack of planning and communication from the district. Community groups and some parents, including Black Women For A Better Education, called for Hamlet’s replacement. In a “compromise,” the board approved a return to in-person learning starting Sept. 3, eight days after the original return date. Hamlet later apologized to families for the confusion.

The day before Hamlet resigned, a group of Black political leaders associated with the Western PA Black Political Assembly voiced their support for Hamlet, who is Black, and said he was the target of racist attacks.

“After much thought and consideration and because, in light of current circumstances, I think it is presently the best thing for our students and families, I believe that now is the time for my tenure to come to an end and to embark upon a new chapter of my professional life,” Hamlet wrote in his letter of resignation.

Last week, school board president Sylvia Wilson said Hamlet’s decision was “unfortunate, but necessary."

Hamlet was first hired as superintendent in 2016. The board renewed his contract in August of last year.