Mary Niederberger is a longtime Pittsburgh-area journalist who started
her career with a decade at The Pittsburgh Press. After freelancing
and teaching at local universities for several years, she joined the
staff of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where she spent 18 years
covering community news, general assignment and education.
Her work has taken her to nearly every community in Pittsburgh and the
surrounding area, and her stories in recent years have focused on
education issues, specifically under-resourced schools and the
students they serve.
She received the Golden Quill Award for education coverage from the
Press Club of Western Pennsylvania in 2014, 2015 and 2016. She is also
the recipient of the Robert L. Vann Award of Excellence for
investigative/enterprise reporting from the Pittsburgh Black Media
Federation in 2011 and 2015.
Also in 2015, Mary and a colleague from the Post-Gazette received
first place in the Pennsylvania Society of of Professional Journalist
Spotlight Awards for their coverage of the ghost job held by the
state's special adviser on higher education.
Mary holds a bachelor's degree from Duquesne University and is a
lifelong Pittsburgh-area resident.
The Fox Chapel Area School District board hired a Butler law firm to act as special counsel in an investigation without telling the public what the investigation is about or how much it would cost the taxpayers. The board retroactively voted to approve the ongoing investigation at Monday's board meeting.
For the past two years, Pittsburgh Superintendent Anthony Hamlet has not filed forms that disclose gifts, travel or outside income that he may have received. Public officials and employees involved in spending must file the forms annually, a requirement of the State Ethics Commission.
Now there are three official probes into the propriety of a vendor-paid trip to Cuba taken by Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet and four other administrators. On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Public Schools board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing solicitor Ira Weiss to conduct a review of district policies relating to procurement, contracts, ethics and conflicts of interest. This review compounds another prompted by the district and one launched by the state auditor general. The inquiries come in the wake of media reports about an April trip to Cuba on the tab of an educational technology company called Flying Classrooms.
The company had a one-year $73,000 contract with the district, which had expired at the time of the trip. Board member Sala Udin, City Controller Michael Lamb and state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale have questioned whether the trip violated the state ethics law that prevents district officials from accepting gifts from vendors.
Experts who study the achievement gap between black and white students told PublicSource the disparities are more an issue of equity than ability. They cite such contributing factors as socioeconomics, implicit teacher bias, disparate discipline and lower expectations projected on black students.