Puerto Rico secretaries of Education, Public Safety step down
Keleher to remain as a contractor with a $250,000 salary
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Education Secretary Julia Keleher and Public Safety Secretary Héctor Pesquera, have resigned their respective positions.
Keleher, who had a $250,000 a year contract, will remain in the government as a contractor advising on project management in “social initiative” areas with the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (Aafaf) until June 30.
Pesquera, meanwhile reportedly will be moving stateside when his contract ends this month.
“This is another change that comes about to be able to continue with the work we have been doing for two years. In the case of Secretary Keleher, it is effective today [Tuesday]. However, she will continue to work through AAFAF as a transformation officer of the education system. She will be assisting in the implementation of the different reforms she was able to direct,” Anthony Maceira, the Public Affairs secretary of La Fortaleza, the governor’s office, said in a WKAQ radio interview. “Now comes a fresh face, a person from within the department who can implement the changes that could be implemented.”
In her new role, Maceira said Keleher would keep her salary and collaborate with other agencies in the execution of projects and budgets.
“In the case of Pesquera, he departs effective April 30. This will allow a transition of a month with the person who will be selected and that the governor will announce soon to also be able to continue the work that has been done on security and that have allowed that today we have 40 fewer homicides than the same date last year,” Maceira said, adding that Pesquera decided to resign to devote more time to his family.
Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Tuesday the appointment of Prof. Eleuterio Álamo as interim secretary of the Department of Education.
“The secretary is nominated as interim now but I will be submitting his appointment to the Senate,” Rosselló said in a live-streamed Facebook message, adding that Álamo will be in charge of establishing the Education Reform.
While Rosselló was participating in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Rise Village apartment complex, he spoke briefly with reporters about his cabinet member resignations.
The governor said he would soon announce who will head the Public Safety Bureau.
“I will be making that announcement shortly and I am grateful to Secretary Pesquera for his service and in the same way [I am grateful for] Secretary Julia Keleher–although she will remain working in various government initiatives–for her work as Education secretary,” Rosselló said.
The governor stressed that the changes in his cabinet do not change his administration’s public policy.
“No, not at all, I establish the public policy,” Rosselló said to questions from the press. “And now the appointed [Education Secretary] Eleuterio Álamo, will be able to continue the work at the Education Department. He will follow the public policy just as Dr. Keleher followed our public policy, and I am really confident that there will be an execution phase. And, in the case of the Public Safety [Bureau], I also am really confident that we will have great results and continue the work that Secretary Pesquera was carrying out and take it to another level in terms of the technology….”
The governor’s office also issued a statement noting that “Álamo has an ample perspective on education and government management thanks to his years of experience in Puerto Rico’s education system.
“His work has included the execution and management of the organizational transformation from inside the classroom, to the regional and state levels of the [Education] Department, besides having a good relationship with the unions,” Rosselló said in the release.
The governor added that he appreciates that Álamo has accepted this job post with the commitment and responsibility that “is required, and we wish him success in one the most important mandates in our government.”
Álamo has more than 25 years of teaching experience in the public and private education sectors, and more than 12 years in high-level management positions.
He was working at the Education Department’s San Juan Regional Office until Monday night, when Keleher stepped down from her post. Álamo also served as the San Juan Education Regional Director in 2010.
The newly appointed interim Education chief, also served as the Education secretary’s special assistant in 2010 and as deputy secretary of Human Resources in 2017. He was the Matías González García Middle School director for seven years and was an English teacher at the Conchita Cuevas High School, both in the town of Gurabo.
In addition, he served as the Caguas Regional Office special assistant, where he was in charge of staff working on federal affairs, finance, administration and human resources areas.
Álamo earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with a concentration in English from Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in Santurce; and a master’s degree in education, with a specialization in administration and supervision from the University of Phoenix. He also holds certificates as an English teacher, school director and superintendent.
After the event in Carolina, the governor traveled to Sevilla, Spain, where he will be participating in the 2019 World Travel & Tourism Council Summit (WTTC).
Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín will serve as interim governor until Rosselló returns Saturday.
–Cybernews contributed to this report.