City school board offers apology to Westinghouse community
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The Pittsburgh Public Schools board has apologized to the community of Pittsburgh Westinghouse 6-12 for the rocky start when the former chronically low-achieving high school was opened as a new school in the fall.
School board member Mark Brentley Sr. made the motion Wednesday and listed a lengthy series of failures in planning and execution, including turnover in school administration, failure to collaborate with the Westinghouse Alumni Association, use of single-gender classes and lack of incentives to attract the best teachers.
Westinghouse, which offered single-gender classes at the start of the school year, wasn't ready when school began. It didn't have a master schedule, and students' schedules were repeatedly changed. Under a legal threat from the American Civil Liberties Union, the district scrapped the single gender classes.
Board member Regina Holley added an amendment directing the superintendent to develop an educational plan with the collaboration of central office, school personnel, parents and community agencies. The district already has started putting a design team in place.
Board members, who had not seen or heard the motion until Mr. Brentley read it, discussed the action for more than an hour. Some board members were willing to apologize but did not want to endorse Mr. Brentley's list.
Board member Sharene Shealey , whose district includes Westinghouse, said that students at Westinghouse hadn't received an adequate education for decades and no one demanded an apology then.
"No one stood up until somebody wanted to change a lack of education," she said.
She apologized for the "things I supported that didn't work. It wasn't for a lack of giving a damn."
She commended Superintendent Linda Lane for trying to improve the school.
Once it was determined that Mr. Brentley's list of problems at Westinghouse was not part of the motion, all of the board members voted for it, except Theresa Colaizzi, who abstained after numerous questions about what the motion, which was modified during the meeting, stated. She earlier had said she had no problem with a "simple apology."
First Published February 23, 2012 6:49 am