New Pittsburgh Super Under Fire for False Claims, Plagiarism

(Photo: Nate Guidry, Post-Gazette)

(Photo: Nate Guidry, Post-Gazette)

Pittsburgh’s new superintendent of the city’s public schools is already under fire for alleged plagiarism charges. The school board has called an emergency meeting so Anthony Hamlet can address the situation.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Hamlet seems to have borrowed a line used in a Washington Post editorial to describe his educational philosophy on his resume and a description stolen from an online dictionary to explain his qualifications as a “transformational leader.”

Hamlet is being accused of inflating his role in turning around struggling schools in Florida, and a board member is stating that she would consider revoking Hamlet’s $210,000 annual salary offer if, in fact, the allegations prove to be authentic.

So far, according to the Associated Press, Hamlet has not responded to the charges and could not be reached for comment by the AP before the Friday meeting.

“That’s game over to me,” board member Lynda Wrenn said. “I would press for a new search.”

Community activists have made it known that they believe Hamlet has been unjustly examined because he is black. Conversely, a former Pittsburgh NAACP president, Tim Stevens, who is currently the head of the Black Political Empowerment Project, pointed out that the black community had concerns about Hamlet’s record as well.

“The superintendent will control a budget larger than the city’s, and is shaping the future of our children,” Stevens said. “Anyone is going to be analyzed by the media, I don’t care what color they are.”

On Monday, the board asked Laurel Brandstetter, a Pittsburgh attorney who specializes in corporate and personnel investigations, to lead an inquiry into the concerns that had been voiced against Hamlet.

Hamlet, 43, called a news conference on Tuesday to discuss earlier allegations by the Palm Beach Post in Florida and the Pittsburgh media that he had misrepresented his success on his resume concerning his part in turning at-risk schools around.

Hamlet admitted that he made a mistake in reporting that when a principal at a Florida middle school from 2011 to 2014 he raised the school’s grade from an “F” to a “C” when it was only raised from a “D” to a “C.”

Hamlet did say, however, that the middle school’s state test performance rose from an “F” to a “C,” but Florida state officials declared that the ratings could not be broken down in that way. The reason for that was other factors, such as students’ readiness for college and graduation rates that are included in the total grade. Still, says Hamlet, the school rose to a “C” and remained at that rating under his leadership.

Elizabeth Behrman of Trib Total Media reports that during Hamlet’s first public speech on May 18 he referenced a definition from Wikipedia cited from BusinessDictionary.com. It was this speech in which he called himself a “transformational leader” without attributing the title to Wikipedia.

Pittsburgh School Board President Regina Holley said the board was won over by Hamlet’s explanation after he shared the information that supported his claims with the members.

And Palm Beach County Teachers Association President Kathi Gundlach was another champion of Hamlet has a candidate. She noted that his work as principal was outstanding and called him a “consummate professional.”