‘Accusations against BOE are false’

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Posted on Apr 10 2020

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A group of Public School System personnel have signed on to a letter that slams Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and tells retirees that the governor’s claims are false and that the injunction the Board of Education initiated against the administration is not the reason why the retirees’ pensions can’t be met.

According to the letter, which was signed by PSS personnel and sent out by Alex Borja, the claims stated in both Torres’ letter and Facebook video are “divisive during this tremendous hardship and a time when the community should be coming together.”

“We are deeply affronted at the false accusations and harmful rhetoric directed toward our three Board of Education members—Marylou Ada, Andrew Orsini, and Phillip Mendiola-Long—who had the courage and integrity to stand up for the over 10,000 students and over 1,000 educators by seeking to uphold the constitutional mandate which was overwhelmingly ratified by the voters of the CNMI in 2015 and recently interpreted in the certified question by the CNMI Supreme Court,” the letter states.

The letter explained that the central government has yet to pay its full obligation to PSS and has regularly lied that it has.

“We hold a letter from the secretary of Finance and PSS financial records showing clearly that the administration is providing zero funds to PSS at the moment. This letter falsely claimed that PSS owes the central government, which would not be the case in any scenario where the law is being upheld according to the Supreme Court,” said the letter.

The PSS employees, which include maintenance personnel, bus drivers, support staff, teachers, special education specialists, teacher aides, counselors, librarians, administrators, and key management, said it is a “tragedy” that retirees will not be getting their full pension but PSS and BOE is just pursuing what’s best for students. Torres earlier told retirees that the CNMI government can only pay them 75% of their pensions.

“It is nothing less than a tragedy that you, our beloved retirees, will not be receiving full payment. It is not the time, though, to point fingers at BOE members who have been courageous leaders in pursuing what is best for students,” the letter stated.

The PSS personnel assured retirees that they support them. “We wish to express our gratitude for your many years of service and countless contributions you have made to the CNMI. It saddens us that our government, due to various circumstances, but most especially the current pandemic that has crippled the entire world economy, will not be able to keep its promise to maintain the additional 25% of the court mandated 75% of the Settlement Fund for you, our revered community of retirees. You certainly deserve 100% of what you so rightfully earned. We all have members of our own families who will be adversely affected by this health and economic crisis and we will endure together,” the educators wrote.

In Torres’ letter to retirees, surviving spouses of retirees, and minor children beneficiaries, he blames the injunction filed by PSS for the government’s inability to make full pension payments.

“Last month, under the direction of Board of Education members Phillip Mendiola-Long, Marylou Ada and Andrew Orsini, the Public School System filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief demanding 25% of general funds. This lawsuit singlehandedly restricted our government funds at a time when students are not in session, schools are not operated and while our community is deeply entrenched in our fight against…COVID-19,” he said.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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