The Hamlet miasma

The Hamlet miasma

Why it is that some people who’ve dug themselves deep into a hole keep digging is a question for the ages. Witness Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet.

Hamlet came to the job under a cloud of alleged resume-padding and plagiarism. He got the job anyway. Then came ethics questions over unauthorized foreign travel, gifts from vendors and no-bid contracts.

All that was layered on top of the district’s perennially high per-pupil spending for perpetually abysmal academic results.

Now comes the latest in a series of KDKA-TV reports that show Hamlet is a paid consultant for a company whose clients have been awarded several major Pittsburgh Public Schools contracts.

As Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb told the station’s Andy Sheehan, “He’s getting paid by people he’s awarding contracts to. That’s an absolute blatant conflict of interest.”

Lamb says the arrangement violates both school district policy and state law.

In a written statement, Hamlet defended his “consultancy,” saying it was “vetted and approved” by Ira Weiss, the district’s solicitor.

But in a written statement of his own, Weiss, who authorized one of two investigations into Hamlet for travel and contract matters (the school board president is conducting her own investigation), says his approval was predicated on the superintendent not receiving any compensation.

Additionally, Weiss says Hamlet’s characterization of his prospective consultancy was “inconsistent with the description provided me.”

And all this drama only adds to the odoriferousness of Pittsburgh Public Schools’ unacceptably long-running academic and leadership miasma.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).