Dr. Anthony Hamlet has been given a five-year contract to be the head of Pittsburgh Public Schools by a 9-0 vote by city school directors. Hamlet has been an administrator in the School District of Palm Beach, which is over seven times the size of the Pittsburgh district, since June 2014. His salary will be $210,000 annually.
In his previous position, Hamlet oversaw 20 at-risk schools and over 18,000 students. He managed budgets that totaled over $128 million and recently transferred to the position of director of recruitment and retention in an effort to reorganize Palm Beach schools, write Molly Born, Chris Potter and Dan Gigler of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"In Palm Beach County, I've been given all the most difficult schools to deal with, and I've transformed those schools from terrible to great," Mr. Hamlet said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
The school board's criteria for the new superintendent included previous leadership in a matching or larger urban school district, a background in the field of education, and a proven dedication to diversity.
Hamlet has a B.A. from the University of Miami and a master's and doctorate degree of education from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He has been the principal of a restructured school and an assistant principal of a suburban high school.
He has taught psychology and multicultural studies at the high school level in an alternative school and has served as a behavior specialist and a family counselor.
Hamlet was voted principal of the year five times and played in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts and the Seattle Seahawks. He says that performance and retention will be his benchmarks. But because of the fighting that ensued at University Prep, he added that security issues within the district will also be on top of the list of his priorities, reports WPXI-TV.
"We're looking at bringing in all our stakeholders, our principals and talking to our students as well. We need their voice as well to come up with clear, sound decisions of how we can wrap our heads around better security measures in particular schools to reduce the safety issues that we're having," he said.
The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito-Visigitis said the union "wholeheartedly welcomes him."
The Florida educator has also said that both closing the achievement gap and using pertinent data to make decisions that are best for students are necessary. He has noted that he wants to bring students attending private and charter schools back into the district and hopes to continue to raise graduation rates. During outgoing Superintendent Linda Lane's time in office, rates of graduation in Pittsburgh improved markedly.
To achieve his goals of investing in early education and supporting older students who continue to struggle academically, Hamlet said the district will need to spend more money, reports Trib Total Media's Elizabeth Behrman.
Ralph Iannotti of KDKA-TV states that Hamlet calls himself "a true transformational leader, not by words, but by actions and performance." He was chosen from a group of 24 applicants which included 21 men and three women.
The longest-serving member of the board, School Board Director Thomas Sumpter, said the process for finding the new superintendent could act as a model for such searches nationwide. He continued by pointing out that the board had the correct standards and involved students and the community in the selection method.
The new superintendent is a single father who has a 17-year-old son. His son graduated from his high school in Florida on last week.