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Pittsburgh Public Schools Parents Protest Delayed Start To New School Year

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Angry parents protested outside Pittsburgh Public Schools' headquarters one day after the district pushed back the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet announced Tuesday that the district is pushing back the start date to Sept. 8.

On Wednesday, there were calls for accountability and transparency from parents, who believe a change in leadership is needed.

Pittsburgh Public schools
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

"We need a superintendent who cares about our children," said Abbie Campsie. "We need a superintendent who can demonstrate competency."

"We have not seen accountability," said Andrea DeVries. "So yes, we need different and better leadership."

The district cited transportation and air-conditioning issues in school buildings, plus staff concerns about wearing masks in the heat, as reasons why the decision was made.

But parents believe the decision came without enough notice.

"They have had a year to set up a plan to anticipate obstacles and to work around them," said Sheila Velez Martinez. "This is their job. They are failing at it."

School board member Veronic Edwards doesn't agree with the delay.

"We have children who have been out of school a year and a half," said Edwards.

KDKA's Jennifer Barrasso: Why did the board make a decision in the 11th hour?

Edwards: I don't believe it was the board. The superintendent does come to us and he outlines his plan to us.

Before Wednesday's protest, the school board president defended the district and blamed the pandemic.

"It's an unavoidable situation," said board president Sylvia Wilson. "We do know that there has been an issue with busing. The school district has been working on this long before June."

Wilson said the district will use Port Authority buses to help provide transportation, and the district has hired two new bus companies. The district also said it is working on a plan to reimburse families who transport their students.

There is a special public hearing on the schooling delay on Monday.

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