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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Ortiz González requests federal intervention with Education Dept. appointments

Rep. Jesús Manuel Ortiz González

By The Star Staff

Rep. Jesús Manuel Ortiz González, who chairs the Government Committee in the island House of Representatives, announced Wednesday that he was ready to send a letter to the federal Education secretary, Miguel Cardona, in which he requests a federal investigation into alleged violations of law in the Puerto Rico Department of Education.

The request for an investigation comes after island Education Secretary Yanira Raíces Vega announced in the media her intention to appoint 94 assistant superintendents of education to career positions in apparent violation of the agency’s Organic Law. The law states that those positions must be temporary -- for one year -- as part of the department’s decentralization and depoliticization process, the lawmaker and Popular Democratic Party candidate for governor said.

“If the appointments to which the official refers are carried out, we believe that they would be illegal appointments and would represent a violation of the law by the Secretary of Education of Puerto Rico,” Ortiz González said in his letter to Cardona. “It is crucial that an investigation be conducted into the feasibility of these appointments and their legality to ensure compliance with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations in this matter.”

The legislator also said he is requesting from Raíces Vega, through a letter, the legal opinion that used to validate that the appointments of the 94 assistant superintendents will be in compliance with the Organic Law of the agency and the federal mandate.

“We believe that this decision contradicts Law 85-2018 regarding the Department of Education, so we are asking the secretary herself to tell us what legal opinion was used to validate that these positions comply with the law,” he said.

“It is essential to know the legal criteria used by the Department so that we can be sure that they are not illegal,” Ortiz González reiterated. “In addition, [it is essential] to request that the U.S. Department of Education intervene to ensure that the principles of decentralization and depoliticization are respected in the Puerto Rico Department of Education. We cannot allow that for a mere whim of making permanent employees of the governing party, the organic law of the agency is violated and the efforts in the department are affected.”

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