Some Pittsburgh schools make progress despite chronic problems, A+ Schools reports

The issues facing Pittsburgh Public Schools — chronic absenteeism, racial achievement gaps, underrepresentation of Black students in gifted programs and significant overrepresentation of Black students among those suspended — aren’t new.

And while those trends are outlined in the statistics of A+ Schools 125-page report to the community released Monday morning, the major focus of Executive Director James Fogarty’s presentation was on schools that are making progress in reversing the negative trends.

Pittsburgh school board members expressed concern over annual test results presented at a Tuesday school board meeting. (Photo by Mary Niederberger/PublicSource)

Pittsburgh school district slated to vote Oct. 30 on agreement laying out how city police can investigate at its schools

To address concerns from the community and Pittsburgh school board members, the latest draft of a memorandum of understanding between Pittsburgh Public Schools and city police specifies that law enforcement cannot conduct an investigation without first reaching a student’s parent or guardian. 

The MOU has undergone numerous revisions over the last several months to address concerns from community and student groups, board members and the ACLU. School board members looked over the newest draft at their Oct. 23 agenda review meeting. 

The board is set to vote Oct. 30 on the agreement between police and the district that is years in the making. 

“Largely, the concerns have been addressed,” district solicitor Ira Weiss said. 

The agreement establishes procedures for how police can respond to certain incidents on school property or at school-sponsored activities. It does not cover incidents outside of the school setting and should “create no substantial disruption to the learning environment.” 

The MOU defines parameters for information sharing between the two parties, what incidents school officials must notify city police regarding and what law enforcement response may involve, including taking a child into custody, notification of parents or guardians and reporting requirements. 

Pennsylvania School Code requires that districts and municipalities have an MOU in place.

SUBMITTED Bayne library

From wizards to mentoring, Allegheny County’s public libraries are vital, sometimes noisy spaces

Established in 1994, the Allegheny County Library Association has 46 member libraries over 70 locations, including 19 branches in Pittsburgh. The organization brought the county’s independent libraries together with the city to help them stay relevant. Today, many of them are vibrant learning spaces for adults and children alike. To highlight the changing and varied roles libraries play for residents, PublicSource explored how four libraries serve their unique communities.