PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh School Board has been demanding answers from Superintendent Anthony Hamlet since May.
A series of reports, called KDKA Investigates, has been seeking answers after Hamlet took an unauthorized trip to Cuba and spent millions on contracts without competitive review.
Since KDKA learned about the trip to Cuba in May, we’ve been closely following the timeline of events as the school board tries to figure out where public money is going.
We’ve got the timeline of events for you.
May 9: Hamlet and administrators take unauthorized trip to Cuba with vendor Flying Classroom
KDKA Investigates reveals that over spring break, Pittsburgh educators, including Pittsburgh School Superintendent Anthony Hamlet flew to Miami at district expense.
The trip potentially violated three district policies: leaving the country without full vote of the school board, taking gifts from vendors and failing to write a report on trip within 15 days.
May 10: Board of Education schedules a special executive session to figure out why they weren’t informed about the trip
The Board of Education schedules a special meeting to discuss the trip to Cuba.
According to district policy, all out-of-the-country travel must be approved by the full school board at a regular meeting, but until KDKA’s story aired on May 9, board members were unaware that superintendent Anthony Hamlet and four other top administrators went to Cuba.
“It just raises a lot of red flags,” Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb said.
May 13: School board meets and launches an in-depth investigation
KDKA reporter, Andy Sheehan: “Are any sanctions being considered against the superintendent?”
Board solicitor, Ira Weiss: “I think it’s premature to get into that. We have to determine as a fact what happened here, what the circumstances were leading up to it, what roles various people played in it and compare all of that against these policies and state laws that I’ve referenced.”
May 16: Caps and gowns redirected through Florida, raising red flags
Pittsburgh Public School parents were buying caps and gowns from Herff Jones, but instead of going through a local representative, they were going through a Palm Beach County, Florida representative.
Palm Beach County is where Hamlet used to work.
City Controller Michael Lamb: “Contracts are being awarded to Florida contractors and vendors, they are being taken away in many cases from local vendors and often we’re not getting the best price.”
For the first time Hamlet responded to issues a written statement, accusing KDKA of “purposefully misleading the public”.
May 22: School Board passes a resolution to review all contracting procedures
School Board orders a comprehensive review of all contracting and ethics policies.
“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,” board member Sala 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.
May 28: Members of the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network hold press conference to call KDKA reports “biased and fallacious”.
The members support Hamlet’s record as improving student performance.
May 30: Controller Lamb reveals that Hamlet failed to file financial disclosure statements for the past two years
Lamb says Hamlet hasn’t filed financial disclosure statements for the past two years, and is in violation of the state Ethics Act.
“It’s to disclose any gifts, any financial interests, and debts. All those are important things to know when you’re making decisions for the public,” explained Lamb.
We have rules we have to follow and this is one of them,” Lamb says. Superintendent Hamlet dodges our questions, leaving a news conference early.