Puerto Rican Judge Declares Charter Schools Unconstitutional

Zachery Schmidt | Contributor

A Puerto Rican judged ruled charter schools and educational vouchers as unconstitutional on the U.S. territory.

Superior Judge Iris Cancio Gonzalez said in his July 6 decision that “public schools cannot be granted to non-profit organizations or any other non-governmental agency; only to the University of Puerto Rico or the municipalities,” according to primerahora.com.

Gonzales added in his ruling that private donations could inappropriately influence public schools in Puerto Rico, according to elnuevodia.com.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed a law in March allowing school choice options in Puerto Rico to fix the island’s school system after Hurricane Maria temporarily closed all public schools. The program wanted to implement charter schools in 10 percent of Puerto Rican schools and offer private school vouchers in the 2019-2020 school year.

Gonzales mentioned the Supreme Court ruled on an issue similar to this in 1994, and the court viewed it as unconstitutional.

Ramón Rosario, the account secretary for the Puerto Rican government, stated that “it was unsurprising that such big changes for education were drawing such resistance,” according to edweek.org.

Teachers Association of Puerto Rico, a union that represents 30,000 teachers, tried fighting this new law when it filed a lawsuit April 3 preventing school choice from taking effect.

“We have always said that both charter schools and educational vouchers were unconstitutional. We knew that the court would confirm what is already an issue tried in Puerto Rico by the Supreme Court,” Aida Díaz, told elnuevodia.com.

Puerto Rican schools have been struggling for a long time. For example, Puerto Rico close 167 schools before the 2017-2018 school year. Student tests scores remain poor with “10 percent of seventh, eight and 11th graders reached proficient standardized test scores” in the 2016-2017 school year, according to the New York Times.

The rebuilding island lost 38,672 students during the 2017-2018 school year. Thus, schools will be at 60 percent capacity in August when school starts, according to CNN.

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