Pittsburgh School Boss Won't Reopen Schools, Will Vacation in Palm Beach

To educate or not to educate, that is the question being asked of Hamlet in Pittsburgh.

An increasing amount of scientific evidence suggests that in-person learning, especially for younger students, presents a low risk for spreading the coronavirus. But last month, Pittsburgh Public Schools delayed reopening at least until April, a move that frustrated many working parents.

The Pittsburgh district’s future is murky. When asked at a school board meeting last month about the plan to reopen in April, Superintendent Anthony Hamlet didn’t provide one.

That's this month. Schools were supposed to go back to actual teaching last month.

“Safety comes first. That’s what we have to go by right now. It’s unfortunate, but we are doing the best we can under the current circumstances. Please bear with us. Hopefully, we will get a vaccine soon, and we can go back to a bit of normalcy. But, if not – we are doing the best we can to educate our students,” said Dr. Anthony Hamlet, superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Most students will continue to learn virtually until at least January.

Or virtually not learn. It's all in the phrasing. And the equity.

(Dr. Hamlet is as much of a doctor as Jill Biden. He has an Ed.D from Nova Southeastern University.)

Some equitable parents are inequitably unhappy about all the equity.

Ashley McClain is a PPS graduate and mother of three including a PPS first grader at Dilworth PreK-5, a magnet school. She signed the letter because she said the district’s response to shutdown to limit the spread of COVID-19 was unacceptable.

She said the packets the district sent home were essentially busy work. Like many PPS students, McClain’s daughter was not given a computer or device to learn remotely. McClain said there was a lack of communication, so she thought she had to purchase one. She bought her daughter an iPad for her birthday for her schoolwork. Then, teachers told her they weren’t allowed to teach in real time because not all students had access to technology and it would be inequitable to only instruct some.

The letter in question comes from Black Women for a Better Education asking the board to escort Hamlet off stage.

The letter from the group ends by saying that it is time for the board to admit that Hamlet’s tenure “has been an abject failure.” They said that families and students “deserve a superintendent who is competent, honest, innovative, and not the center of continuous negative press.”

“We do not take lightly the implications of Black women asking a school board with a Black president to not renew the contract of a Black superintendent of a school district with majority Black students. We are aware of the optics; however, we demand better for our Black children. We have had enough, and our children deserve better,” the letter states.

They deserve better than public schools controlled by teachers' unions. And a boss who's off in Palm Beach.

On Thursday, she saw the pictures reposted from Hamlet’s private Facebook page of him out with friends recently at a restaurant in Palm Beach.

Hamlet and the others are seen huddled together wearing no masks and drinking “adult drinks,” according to the woman who originally posted the pictures. All this when Murtazashvili says her kids and others are stuck at home.

“And to see our superintendent having a great time in Florida with people while these kids in our school district are suffering so much, I think it is really shameful,” she said.

"One of the worst things we can be doing now is contributing to the problem by taking our focus off of our shared priorities for our schools, families and students,” Hamlet retorted. “I am focused on priorities that matter.”

Hamlet has had these issues before.

The nature of this controversy is not new to Hamlet. Back in 2019, KDKA first reported he and his top administrators took an unauthorized junket trip to Cuba with a district vendor. The trip included hotels, dining, snorkeling and cave diving.

Prior to that, KDKA also exposed the many trips Hamlet had taken at the district’s expense, averaging one a month to cities throughout the country — some multiple times.

Then again, it's not as if the warning signs weren't there.

Hours after Anthony Hamlet took the oath of office Friday as Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent, the district released an independent review that found the embattled schools chief had submitted resumes that were “fraught with errors” about his employment history and contained three instances of plagiarism.

“Honestly, I don't agree with anything the report said at all, and I don't want to continue to be getting on protracted point-for-counterpoint conversations with it,” Hamlet told the Tribune-Review.

“It has nothing to do with my track record at all,” Hamlet continued. “Moving forward, I want to really focus on Pittsburgh Public Schools.”

So much for that.

Through his lawyer, Johnny C. Taylor Jr., Hamlet told the board in a written response to the report that “he lacked the necessary intent” to plagiarize.

Good night, sweet prince.

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