By Natasha Brown

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Uncertainty about the Philadelphia School District leadership continues to mount. Now, the district is unveiling a new program about equity.

Philadelphia School Superintendent Dr. William Hite is staying focused on the launch of a new equity coalition. It’s an initiative designed to provide structure and guidance needed to establish more equity and diversity for students and staff.

He’s also getting students through virtual learning during a pandemic but there are other factors he’s facing within his own district.

“We need to stay focused,” said Dr. Hite.

During a news briefing Tuesday morning, Dr. Hite tried to bring attention back to students and families in the midst of a petition from the union representing Philadelphia Principals declaring it had lost faith in the superintendent.

“There’s a petition for a no-confidence vote. There wasn’t a vote of no confidence by the membership and I think that is a distinction,” Dr. Hite said. “I can’t get hung up in those types of things. We’re going to continue to do work with all of our other labor partners.”

The petition is an unprecedented move by the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators Union representing 650 principals. They’ve criticized Dr. Hite’s management style and his management of keeping students and staff safe during the pandemic.

The district is preparing to welcome students and staff back into buildings in November.

“We continue to work on a safety plan. We also continue to work with a principal advisory group,” said Dr. Hite. “They are also our managers who will tell us if, in fact, things are not accomplished as they should be so that we will be able to address those things before individuals return.”

The petition for a vote of no-confidence in Dr. Hite already has about 2,000 signatures.

This comes as the district continues to try to negotiate a contract with the Federation of Teachers Union.

“I remain optimistic that we’re going to get to a place where we have contracts or at least an extension,” Dr. Hite said.