• The San Juan Daily Star

If confirmed, designated Education chief to adjust work team

Designated Education Secretary Eliezer Ramos Parés

By John McPhaul

If he is confirmed by the island Senate, designated Education Secretary Eliezer Ramos Parés said Thursday that he anticipates making changes in the upper ranks of the agency.

“So far, the results of the work team have extended outside the Department of Education. I am satisfied with those results,” Ramos Parés said in a radio interview (NotiUno). “It does not mean that the team will remain intact. Once we pass this advise and consent [process] of the Senate, everyone is under evaluation.”

When asked if that means that there may be changes in the work team, Ramos Parés said “of course it does.”

“I am sure that along the way there will be,” he said. “Once we identify the strengths and weaknesses of everyone, without a doubt, there will be changes in the work team.”

The designated secretary rejected the idea that his confirmation is conditioned on him dismissing deputy secretary Héctor Joaquín Sánchez Álvarez, a former New Progress Party electoral commissioner whose time in the island government’s largest agency has not been without controversy.

“I am not oblivious to what has transpired in the public media. And that will be an issue that we will address with those who have concerns about the work team of yours truly,” Ramos Parés said. “I believe that yours truly is being evaluated, it is nobody else. This public servant should have, if he has the confidence of the Senate, to be able to choose who will be on his work team. I have not received requests for someone to stay in their position or for someone to leave the work team as a condition.”

Teachers Association President Víctor Manuel Bonilla Sánchez said meanwhile that Ramos Parés “has had, at least, some very effective conversations and communication with us for the benefit of Puerto Rican teachers.”

“We have achieved extraordinary steps,” Bonilla Sánchez said. “In some [matters] we do not agree, but we have sat down to negotiate and that is what we need.”

He noted that it is the public policy of the Teachers Association, the exclusive representative of teachers in the Department of Education, not to publicly endorse nominees to head to the agency.

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