Registrar’s document shows Ríos did not change student’s grades as has been alleged
By The Star Staff
A member of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) governing board defended on Thursday the board’s decision to confirm Ilka Ríos Reyes as chancellor of the Medical Sciences Campus (RCM by its Spanish initials) as requested by UPR President Luis Ferrao Delgado, arguing that the allegations levied against her are false.
Governing board member Herman Cestero also criticized the Popular Democratic Party majority delegation in the island House of Representatives for politicizing the board’s decision to confirm Ríos. The delegation submitted legislation rejecting the confirmation, arguing it was done in an irregular manner.
“They should not politicize what is ultimately an academic issue,” said Cestero, who voted in favor of Ríos on Aug. 22 after an evaluation of all of the information the board had received about her. Her confirmation has been an issue of contention because her opponents charged that she put the school’s accreditation at risk by allegedly favoring a 15-year-old student and even changing her grades.
Documents examined by the STAR and a report that investigated the allegations do not support that contention. Cestero noted a document from the Registrar’s Office, whose head is Abelardo Martínez, stating that Ríos authorized the student to drop certain courses and not a change in her grades, as has been alleged.
Ríos, who is slated to officially assume the post today, had reached a settlement in July 2022 with the then 15-year-old medical student, who had failed courses and was slated to be expelled, to avoid a lengthy lawsuit against the School of Medicine for failing to provide required assistance the student needed because of her age.
The settlement signed on July 7, 2022, was consistent with a prior one reached with the student in February 2021 with former RCM Chancellor Segundo Rodríguez.
Marcos Antonio Román López, a former RCM legal adviser, said upon an evaluation of the student’s file that he found out that the School of Medicine’s Promotion Committee had said nothing could be done about the student’s grade after she failed her first year, but that the Office of the President had reached an agreement to allow her to repeat the first year.
However, he also noted that the school had failed to provide the student with the help she needed to cope with her coursework as she is a minor. In a declaration, he said he contacted the school’s psychologist, who informed the lawyer that “the girl’s rights had been violated” and that the school did not execute any of the recommendations he had made for the student.
As part of the agreement, Ríos authorized the student to drop some of her second-year courses and take three courses, according to documents obtained by the STAR, to avoid a costly and lengthy lawsuit.