After completing an eight-month search that winnowed a pool of 24 candidates from 14 states down to 12, then six, then three, the Pittsburgh Board of Education has named 46-year-old Anthony Hamlet as its new superintendent of schools.
The board, joined by retiring Superintendent Linda Lane, introduced Hamlet to the city at a May 18 press conference, and formally voted him in at a special meeting that evening, extending him a five-year contract with a $210,000 salary. He will officially start July 1.
Hamlet, a one-time NFL and CFL defensive lineman, most recently served as director of accountability transformation for the Palm Beach County (Florida) School District, which with 183,000 students and almost 13,000 teachers, is the 11th largest district in the country.
In that capacity, Hamlet oversaw 20 low-performing schools with more than 18,000 students and managed budgets totaling more than $128 million.
“In Palm Beach County, I’ve been given all the most difficult schools to deal with,” he said. “And I’ve transformed those schools from terrible to great.”
Board member Thomas Sumpter said that is exactly what he was looking for throughout the selection process, the fact that he is the first Black male superintendent since John Thompson as incidental.
“I’m looking for somebody who will do good for the kids, who can turn around some schools, and someone who knows education and how to do it from Kindergarten all the way to 12th grade,” said Sumpter. “The fact that he’s an African American male had nothing to do with it. We didn’t even see the candidates until the final interviews. Everything was based on the information they provided and responses to our questions.”
Board President Regina Holley agreed, saying Hamlet met the criteria the district and search consultant Brian Perkins established beforehand—and responded to board, community and student questions—better than the other candidates.
“We wanted someone who’d been a teacher, and who had run a building. The community wanted someone with a doctorate, who’d been in education,” she said. “But what did it for me is this candidate had proven that he could move schools in a positive direction, schools with some of the students that were the most challenging. So I’m excited about his experience and his work ethic.”
In addition to his most recent position, Hamlet served a high school principal, a middle school principal; and a principal at an alternative education school. He was a high school teacher for years, and also worked as a behavioral specialist.
Following a brief professional football career as a defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts, in 1992 and 1993, and one year with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League, the University of Miami graduate returned to Florida and earned master’s and doctoral degrees in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.
IN a press statement that also thanked the board for their diligence and Lane for her years of service, Mayor Bill Peduto welcomed Hamlet to the city.
““I’m excited that Dr. Hamlet will be bringing his years of expertise, leadership and commitment to the lives of children to Pittsburgh’s schools, and the greater community as well,” he said. “I look forward to working with him and the PPS Board to further build upon the partnerships we have forged to support children and families throughout the city.”
Hamlet said his priorities in Pittsburgh will be closing the achievement gap for Black students, increasing the graduation rate, investing more in early education, and lure students back to the district from private and charter schools.
“I’ve done the work,” he said. “I know how to do the work.”
(J.L. Martello contributed to this story)