Governor appoints acting Education secretary
By John McPhaul
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced on Monday that he has appointed Jesús González Cruz as acting secretary of the island Department of Education.
“Today [Monday], I am appointing Mr. Jesús González Cruz as acting secretary of the Department of Education. Mr. González Cruz has been serving as assistant secretary of administration in the Department,” Pierluisi said in a written statement. “It is essential to guarantee the continuity of services and the important work that is being done by our students, and I am sure that Mr. González will carry out this work with the sense of urgency and responsibility that is required at this time.”
González Cruz has proven administrative, legal and legislative experience, the governor said.
He has served as secretary of the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, administrator of the Correction Administration, administrator of the Administration of Juvenile Institutions, attorney for Juvenile Affairs (auxiliary prosecutor) of the Department of Justice of Puerto Rico, municipal secretary of the Municipality of Arecibo and executive director of the Committee on Youth Affairs of the island House of Representatives, among other positions.
A 2004 graduate of Pontificia Universidad Católica School of Law, González Cruz has been practicing law since 2005.
“In the next few days I will be completing an interview process to make a property designation to be submitted to the Senate of Puerto Rico for its evaluation and consent,” the governor said. “Meanwhile, the work to ensure that all our children have a prepared and safe school continues without pause.”
Pierluisi withdrew the appointment of Elba Aponte Santos as Education secretary on Saturday.
“During the afternoon today [Saturday], I was informed about the decision of the majority of the members of the Senate Appointments Committee regarding the report that does not recommend Professor Elba Aponte to be confirmed as Secretary of Education,” the governor said that day. “After conversations with Professor Aponte, I am withdrawing her appointment.”
“Professor Aponte is fully qualified and has been instrumental in guiding the reopening of schools safely, as was done. In addition, she always prioritized the education of the boys and girls of the public education system,” Pierluisi added on Saturday. “I only have words of gratitude for her … commitment to the education of our next generations. I am sure that she will continue to contribute to our people.”
Senate President José Luis Dalmau Santiago said meanwhile that “during the months in which Aponte has directed the agency she has not been able to convince me that she can make the big changes that need to be made in the Department of Education.”
“In a vote with 10 votes in favor and six against, the Appointments Committee determined not to recommend the appointment of the secretary of Education,” he added. “A caucus was held and it was determined that the report would be negative.”
Dalmau Santiago also announced the Appointments Committee’s schedule of public hearings for the next 10 days.
On Monday, the committee was to hold a public hearing on the appointment of Manuel Torres Nieves as commonwealth comptroller, and today a hearing is slated on the appointment of Ray Jones Quiñones as secretary of the Department of Recreation and Sports. Both hearings were to be held at 10 a.m. in the Leopoldo Figueroa Room.
On Wednesday, the appointment of José Colón Grau as commissioner of the Medical Emergency Management Bureau will be the subject of a hearing in the Miguel García Room at 10 a.m.
On Monday, April 26, will be the public hearing of the designated secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Ramón González Beiró, and on Tuesday, April 27, the appointment of Dr. Carlos Mellado López as secretary of the Department of Health will be considered. Those hearings will be held in the Leopoldo Figueroa Room at 10 a.m.