PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet is facing state fines and sanctions for ethical violations as a result of a state ethics probe.
KDKA has learned embattled Superintendent Anthony Hamlet — already under fire for repeated delays in classroom instruction — is now facing those fines and sanctions. They follow a KDKA investigation into his travel and millions of dollars of questionable contracts.
KDKA has learned that on Thursday morning, the state Ethics Commission will release a damming report sanctioning Superintendent Hamlet and fining him for abuses related to his travel, financial relationships with vendors and the purchase of millions of dollars in questionable educational technology products.
The State Ethics Commission launched its investigation after KDKA revealed Hamlet’s unauthorized trip to Cuba with his top administrators paid for by a school district vendor seeking a new contract. A subsequent investigation by the board found he had violated three district policies, including taking gifts from vendors.
But KDKA’s probe did not stop there. In our reports, we questioned Hamlet’s monthly district-paid travel to places like Los Angeles, Chicago and Las Vegas and asked why under Hamlet the district had lavished millions of dollars in purchases for under-used EDTech computer programs and platforms.
KDKA discovered Hamlet to be a paid consultant to a company called ERDI, a Chicago-based company that hosts private meetings at four-star resorts around the country between the executives of many of these EdTech companies and paid educators like Hamlet.
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The district awarded several of ERDI’s clients big-ticket contracts, packages from companies listed on ERDI’s website at the time such as Discovery Education, Panorama, BloomBoard and Performance Matters.
Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb reacted with disgust.
“He’s getting paid indirectly by people he’s awarding contracts to,” Lamb said. That’s an absolute blatant conflict of interest,”
We understand the state will cite Hamlet for several ethical violations, require him to pay fines and reimburse the district for any honorariums he received from ERDI and vendors on non-district-related trips.
The findings come at an especially bad time for Superintendent Hamlet, who is under fire by some for failing to provide all but a few weeks of in-classroom instruction during the pandemic and recently delayed the start of school. Some parents have launched a petition calling for him to step down or be fired.
Now the full report — 147 pages of it — will be released Thursday morning. Superintendent Hamlet has had a copy for a month now and had until 5 p.m. to appeal the findings. It’s not clear if he did.
He is expected to hold a press conference addressing those findings, and we will bring them to you in their entirety on Thursday,