PBC educator tapped for top Pittsburgh job addresses misstatements

Anthony Hamlet address reporters in Pittsburgh (Photo via Twitter)
Anthony Hamlet address reporters in Pittsburgh (Photo via Twitter)

Anthony Hamlet, a Palm Beach County educator tapped last month to lead Pittsburgh’s public schools, sought today to defend his claims about his track record, four days after The Palm Beach Post revealed a series of apparent misstatements on his resume.

Among the questionable claims Hamlet made in winning the superintendent position: that he had raised the state grades of two schools from F to C, that he lifted Palm Beach Lakes High’s graduation rate by 13 points, and that in his final role at the school district he had “direct supervision” of 20 of the county’s schools.

All three claims appeared to be misstatements or exaggerations, The Post reported.

Anthony Hamlet
Anthony Hamlet

At a news conference in Pittsburgh, Hamlet conceded he had erroneously claimed that John F. Kennedy Middle School’s state grade rose from an F to a C during his time as principal.

As The Post reported on Friday, the school’s state grade rose from a D to a C under his predecessor and remained at a C during Hamlet’s tenure.

“I’ll admit there was an error on my resume,” he told reporters this afternoon.

Hamlet did not directly admit to any other misstatements.

But he presented new graduation figures that conflicted with his previous claim that he had raised Palm Beach Lakes High’s graduation rate from 59 to 72 percent.

The figures that he presented – showing an increase of less than 5 points, to 67.7 percent – mirrored the official 4-year federal graduation rate used by the state and the school district to track school performance.

He did not explain how he had previously calculated a 13-point increase.

Hamlet doubled down on his claim that he had lifted Palm Beach Lakes High’s state grade from an F to a C, an assertion at odds with state records.

As The Post reported, Palm Beach Lakes had a C grade from the state when he became its principal in 2011 and remained at a C during his three years at the helm.

Questioned about the discrepancy, Hamlet said that he was referring not to the official state grade but to the school’s “accountability” grade.

“The state’s grading of the school as a C [when he took over] actually masked the lack of academic achievement happening within the school,” he said.

To support his argument that he had lifted the school out of failure, he presented data that showed students’ overall scores on state tests rose during his time at Palm Beach Lakes.

Figures he showed reporters today indicated that an index measuring the school’s test performance rose from 391 to 439 on an 800-point scale. That index is part of the formula that Florida uses to calculate school grades.

But state education officials say that the state does not give schools a grade for its score on that index alone.

And it was unclear how Hamlet determined that the 48-point increase represented a rise from ‘F’ to ‘C.’ He did not elaborate on his methodology.

Hamlet also defended his claim that, as one of the school district’s two school transformation directors, he had “direct supervision” of 20 schools and their principals, as well as “supervision of school budgets totaling $128,944,159.”

Though The Post reported that his position had no direct operational role over any schools, he said that the position was created as part of the county’s efforts to turn around struggling schools.

“I was responsible to lead the turnaround effort at the district level,” he said.

Hamlet said he hoped his answers would help to quell some of the questions raised in Pittsburgh since The Post’s article was published.

“It is unfortunate that we have begun this way but I believe today I have answered these questions,” he said.

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