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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Some 10,000 educators walk off the job with ‘teacher’s flu’

Education Secretary Eliezer Ramos Parés

By John McPhaul

Education (DE) Secretary Eliezer Ramos Parés said Tuesday that only 55 percent of public school teachers showed up for work.

“We recognize the just struggle of the teachers, but we urge them to keep it away from the classroom,” Ramos Parés said in a written statement. “Our students need us in the schools to address the academic lag and achieve the progress initiated after the return to the face-to-face modality at the schools.”

As detailed by the DE, out of the total number of appointed teachers, some 21,383, 11,797 teachers, or 55 percent, went to work at their respective schools on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the attendance of other teachers was 67 percent, or 1,514, present.

Ninety percent of school directors (701) were on the job Tuesday.

The number of schools covered by the data was 772.

Also on Tuesday, a small group from teachers’ organizations staged a protest in front of the federal court building on Carlos Chardón Avenue in Hato Rey. The protest was part of the implementation of the central government debt adjustment plan (PAD by its Spanish acronym).

The protest proceeded peacefully.

Also, on highway PR-2, at the intersection with PR-417 in the Guanábanos de Aguada neighborhood, around 15 people, mostly teachers, staged a protest.

Meanwhile, after the entry into force of the PAD and the freezing of teachers’ pensions on Tuesday, the Puerto Rico Teachers Association (AMPR by its Spanish initials) and its Local Union filed a claim before U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain on Tuesday demanding that teachers be paid for the economic damages they will suffer as a result of their retirement freeze.

“As exclusive representatives of the teaching profession, we presented before Judge Swain an Evidence of Claim (Rejection Damages Proof of Claim), for the amount of not less than $3.9 billion, demanding that the government and the Financial Management and Oversight Board pay the economic damage that the thousands of teachers and participants of the Teachers Retirement System will experience when their retirement is frozen as of today,” said AMPR President Víctor Manuel Bonilla Sánchez, who was accompanied by Melissa López and José Luis Barrios, legal representatives of the organization.

After the claim was filed by the AMPR and its Local Union, Judge Swain admitted the claim for the stated amount, and it will be up to the oversight board to show the exact amounts that the government will contribute during the next 30 years to the Social Security accounts of the teachers whose retirement was frozen, if it is interested in objecting to the amount owed to the teachers, the AMPR officials said.

“Our fight continues,” Bonilla Sánchez said. “The AMPR and its Local Union will continue to call for and defend the interests and rights of teachers in PROMESA [Puerto Rico Oversight and Management Board] procedures. This is another step to vindicate the teaching profession in the face of the abuse suffered with the approval of the PAD.”

Sybaris Morales Paniagua, interim general secretary of the AMPR-Local Union, added that she will also continue her efforts with the government and the Legislature to identify the necessary funds to address the situation of teachers’ retirement. She noted that currently the government is considering the alternatives that the AMPR has presented in favor of educators.

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