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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Special education assistants demonstrate for higher salaries

Rep. José Rivera Madera

By The Star Staff

Special Education assistants in public schools protested Monday morning in front of the Capitol to demand that the island Senate approve House Bill 1886, which proposes increasing the salary of the workers, which currently stands at $9 per hour.

The group’s spokesperson, Guillermo Betancourt, said they are the lowest-paid employees in the Department of Education (DE) despite some having studied at the university level. Meanwhile, some employees only have a high school degree and are earning $14 an hour in other areas of the department, he pointed out.

Likewise, Betancourt noted that apart from sick leave, the special ed assistants have few sick days, they do not have vacation days to accumulate, and their Christmas bonus is conditional.

The spokesperson criticized, for example, the fact that some of the trust employees in the agency who are paid large salaries, and whose names were made public two weeks ago, only have a high school diploma. He was referring to the names of individuals in positions of trust who also work in Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia’s gubernatorial campaign.

“We are inviting and urging the governor to express himself and to give us openness to dialogue so that we are given labor and salary justice,” Betancourt indicated in reference to the state of the commonwealth address that the governor is scheduled to give today.

The 5,500 Special Education assistants work with students with autism and Down syndrome, as well as bedridden students. The Special Education population, Betancourt said, is between 20% and 30% of the total enrollment of the more than 800 schools on the island.

Earlier on Monday, Rep. José “Cheito” Rivera Madera, who authored the legislative measure that seeks to increase the salary of DE Special Education assistance employees known as T-1 and T-2, expressed his solidarity with the demonstrators and their cause.

Although on the one hand he regretted that “employees who are so necessary for the special education of our children in schools have to resort to this extreme claim,” the experience has been that this type of demonstration drives the measures that are filed, as was the case with the increase in the retirement of police personnel, a measure also filed by Rivera Madera.

“My solidarity is with all the Special Education Special Assistants (T1 and T2) who today express themselves in front of the Capitol demanding better working conditions and a fair salary,” the legislator said. “These workers are an essential part of the training of our special education students who are left behind and forgotten by the system itself.”

Rivera Madera was optimistic that the measure of his authorship, which was approved in the lower chamber, will be considered on its merits since it establishes in advance the budgetary source with which the recommended remuneration would be met, “without altering the country’s fiscal plan at all.”

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1 Comment

William Rosa
William Rosa
Apr 02

It's simply unbelievable the state of public education in PR; if nothing, the PPD/PNP should feel ashamed of squandering the resources destined to educate the Puerto Rican youth. We aren't talking about politicians playing economic games anymore, these people's projects are to maul resources allocated to everything. It sounds crazy, isn't?

Those engaged in the game have one goal only, get their piece of the pie. The 74 years of "de turno" PPD/PNP governorships had just exploded, exposing the ugly side of the "pava" and the "palma." The current total-out crisis that corrodes PR is easily traceable to its sources since no other political party or leader but from the PPD/PNP had been in charge of managing the country.


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