Hamlet has come under increased scrutiny after a Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission report released on Aug. 26 found that he violated ethics rules.
Weiss announced Hamlet’s resignation at a virtual press event with most of the PPS board present. The board has the power to fire superintendents, however, PPS board president Sylvia Wilson said that Hamlet’s resignation was not a forced action and that Hamlet “chose to do this on his own.”
The board is expected to meet on Sept. 29 to name an interim PPS superintendent. Weiss said that the PPS board will then conduct a national search for a new permanent superintendent in December. Wilson said the board is waiting until December to allow for newly elected board members to weigh in on the national search process.
Weiss read a statement from the PPS board that read in part that “The board and Dr. Hamlet believes this is in the best interest of the community” and the board “remains steadfast in the belief that this outcome is unfortunate but necessary.”
That state ethics report found that Hamlet negligently received travel reimbursements and payments for appearances related to his job, and incorrectly filed financial documents. According to the ethics commission, Hamlet utilized leave for days when he was absent for non-district-related travel and carried over unused vacation and personal days for certain district employees, including himself, despite his contract prohibiting it.
The commission also found that a technical violation of the Ethics Act occurred when Hamlet accepted honoraria in recognition of appearances, speeches, or presentations directly related to his role as superintendent. David Berardinelli, the attorney who represented Hamlet in the Ethics Commission Inquiry, noted in August that Hamlet’s contract allowed him to receive such honoraria, which he says is why the commission labeled Hamlet’s actions as a “technical” violation.
Some parents and leaders called for Hamlet’s firing earlier this year. A political action committee group called Black Women for a Better Education formed this year to support school board candidates who opposed Hamlet. And in August, after the ethics report was released, Pittsburgh city controller Michael Lamb called for a change in leadership at the school district.
Helmet’s resignation comes even as many PPS board members supported Hamlet. In August, Wilson said in a statement that a change in leadership at the school district would not make sense due to existing challenges due to the pandemic.
Weiss said that Hamlet is eligible for a severance payment of more than $399,000.