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How do Pittsburgh community groups feel about the new PPS superintendent?

Wayne Walters’ promotion caps a decades-long career with PPS that began in 1991, with a teaching position at King Elementary School on the North Side.
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Wayne Walters, a longtime Pittsburgh Public Schools educator, will become the next superintendent of the district.

On today’s episode of The Confluence: We speak to a member of Black Women for a Better Education for their reaction to the announcement of Pittsburgh Public Schools' new superintendent; an investigation into how a city police officer invoked a little-known law to gain legal protection from a colleague that she alleges sexually assaulted her; and how did Squirrel Hill, and some of its streets, get named? 

Today’s guests include: Allyce Pinchback-Johnson, founding member of Black Women for a Better Education; Megan Harris, lead producer at City Cast Pittsburgh, and Rich Lord, managing editor of PublicSource.

Local advocacy group hopes Wayne Walters will focus on academics as new PPS superintendent
(0:00 - 6:01)

Last week, the Pittsburgh Public School board announced Wayne Walters as the pick for the district’s new superintendent. Formerly a PPS administrator and teacher, Walters has served as interim superintendent since Anthony Hamlet’s resignation last fall.

“It's been a rough few years for the district,” says Allyce Pinchback-Johnson, co-founder of Black Women for a Better Education. “I think that Dr. Walters has laid a great foundation as interim, and we're looking for him to build on that as the permanent superintendent.”

At a school board meeting in June, PPS students and teachers pushed for Walter’s hiring, due to his familiarity with the district. Pinchback-Johnson believes the new superintendent should prioritize improving academics above all else.

“Students have not been learning at high levels for a very long time, Black students especially, but frankly, no students,” she says. “[The success] stories that come out of PPS are really anomalies…We really want to see that success translate for every student.”

The school board is anticipated to formally vote on the appointment during its July 27 legislative meeting. If confirmed, Walters will begin his permanent position on Aug. 1

Rarely utilized state law offers protective order to victims of sexual assault 
(6:07 - 17:19)

Pennsylvania residents who are victims of sexual assault can obtain a protective order to prevent interaction with the person who assaulted them. The most commonly used protection of this is the Protection from Abuse Order, or PFA, which applies when the victim and defendant have a relationship such as spouses, siblings, or household members who are related by blood.

But what if the person isn’t related to the defendant in that way? A Pittsburgh police officer discovered a less frequently used Pennsylvania law to protect victims of sexual violence, including herself: Pennsylvania’s Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation law.

“It's under the civil law rather than the criminal law. So it's built for cases in which people who are not intimate partners, are not family members, have a sexual violence issue or an intimidation issue,” says PublicSource managing editorRich Lord, who co-reported this story with Megan Harris, the lead producer of City Cast Pittsburgh.“If you're a victim of sexual violence or a minor who's a victim of stalking or harassment, you can go to court, and ask for a court order that would compel the other party to stay away from you for as long as three years.”

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape found 285 cases in 2021 that utilized this protective order, compared to nearly 18,000 PFA petitions filed the same year.

WESA’s Good Question! Podcast explores the origins of Squirrel Hill’s name

(17:22 - 22:30)

Squirrel Hill is Pittsburgh’s largest neighborhood, with more than 27,000 residents in its nearly four square miles. Many Good Question! listeners live or work in the East End community, and as 90.5 WESA’s Katie Blackley reports, they had many curiosities about their neighborhood.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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