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Pittsburgh school chief hit with fines by state ethics board

August 26, 2021 GMT

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The State Ethics Commission on Thursday said the superintendent of Pittsburgh’s public schools submitted “negligent” reimbursements for travel and was improperly paid for days off when he was not working for the school district.

The three-page order also said Superintendent Anthony Hamlet violated ethics rules by taking money for public appearances, speeches or presentations related to his public position.

The commission ordered him to pay $1,750 to the state and $6,200 to the school district and to forfeit 14 vacation days. He was also directed to file amended financial disclosures for 2016-2018.

At a news conference Thursday in Pittsburgh, Hamlet said it was “a great day” for him, ending a two-year process that has been a cloud over him, “even though I know I have done nothing wrong.”

“With this review behind me, it looks like a fresh start,” he said in a video message.

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His attorney, David Berardinelli, said the violations were the result of clerical errors, lack of ethics training and Hamlet’s contract letting him receive pay for speeches even though that type of compensation is not permitted under state law.

“While it does not excuse the errors on the forms, Dr. Hamlet and his team never received any formal ethics training on the forms or in general on Pennsylvania ethics laws,” Berardinelli said. “That will be remedied and training from the commission itself is going to be arranged so that Dr. Hamlet and all staff members file complete and wholesome forms moving forward.”

School board President Sylvia Wilson told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the board was reviewing the report. “We want to be able to sit down and talk about it ourselves,” Wilson told the paper.