PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh School Board passed a resolution Wednesday night to review all contracting procedures.
The board approved the sweeping review by unanimous vote after the scathing comments of one board member who took the administration of superintendent Anthony Hamlet to task.
In the wake of KDKA’s investigations into the Cuba trip and the questionable expenditure of millions of dollars in educational technology, the board approved a sweeping review of all of its contracting and ethics policies.
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Noting that both a state and internal investigation are now underway, board member Sala Udin offered a warning as superintendent Anthony Hamlet sat silently.
“It is my hope that these inquiries will find that everything was done in accordance with state and board policies and procedures. If however it is found that wrongdoing has taken place, those responsible for wrongdoing must be held to account,” Udin said.
Udin cited two contracts KDKA investigated — a $5.8 million expenditure to Discovery Education, which the board has now must on hold, and a $4.4 million reading contract called ReadyGen, which KDKA reported Hamlet promoted despite the fact that a teacher and parent committee rejected it. Udin maintains it’s a failure.
“None of them receiving the kind of needed board oversight, in my opinion, to determine their effectiveness, their cost effectiveness, or their ability to close the glaring ratio and socioeconomic achievement gaps in our school district,” Udin said.
The resolution would authorize the board solicitor to review all district policies related to procurement, contracting, ethics and conflicts of interest.
The review would determine how the district contracts for curriculums, staff development, consulting and technical student assessment. If those procedures are found lacking, the solicitor would recommend stronger ones.
It would also review the ethics policies related to accepting gifts and entertainment, and require all administrators and staffers to undergo ethics training.
Board member Sylvia Wilson said, however, there would be no rush to judgement.
“We do know that there are some investigations going on and we do look forward to what those results are, and I hope that we’re just as equally willing to accept that some people point fingers when there’s nothing to point fingers at,” she said.