Board of Education chair Herman Guerrero kept neutral yesterday on the contentious appointment of Cynthia Deleon Guerrero as Public School System commissioner.
In a letter addressed to Guerrero, concerned teacher Alisa Pangelinan claimed that the selection process was “questionable and compromise[ed] the integrity of the overall process.”
To that, Guerrero declined to comment.
“I have no reaction to that. The Board of Education needs to review the letter,” he said.
Guerrero said he was trying to maintain neutrality on the issue and that hopefully the board would be able to address the issue in their special meeting on Friday, Nov. 18.
An online petition on change.org called for support for the CNMI Board of Education’s selection of Deleon Guerrero. The petition already had 101 signers as of 9pm last night. It insists that the Board of Education followed its hiring regulations.
“This action by these few teachers is a disruption to the management of PSS and a blatant disrespect and lack of understanding of the democratic and autonomous process of the BOE,” it added.
Other teachers, who agreed to speak to Saipan Tribune on the condition of anonymity, shared the same sentiments as Pangelinan and pushed the same thing—transparency in the selection process.
A group of teachers questioned Deleon Guerrero’s qualification, claiming that candidates Glenn Muña or Ignacia Demapan would fit better in the role of commissioner.
The same group also pointed out that Deleon Guerrero is too new to PSS.
Another teacher within the same group speculated that the BOE’s criteria were adjusted to fit Deleon Guerrero.
One of the teachers, however, opted to remain optimistic and insisted that people give Deleon Guerrero a chance.
“She has big shoes to fill,” said the teacher, claiming that former commissioner Dr. Rita Sablan has been a big help to PSS and wondered whether Deleon Guerrero could handle the position.
Another teacher wondered how the selection process went.
“I have nothing against [Deleon Guerrero], but the fact that we don’t actually know how she got the position brings up questions. That is one thing we want to know as teachers,” she said.
Another teacher shared a different opinion.
“I don’t really have much to say because I don’t know the new commissioner who was appointed. I’m just disappointed that they didn’t go off-island to seek candidates. I think being on the island, everybody is related to everybody, and it’ll just be really nice to have some outside influence. There a lot of things that needed to be changed…and it would be nice to have a different perspective,” said the teacher.
A few teachers, however, thought that it was worth giving Deleon Guerrero a shot at the position before being critical.
“I don’t really have an opinion because what I know is she was first a Human Resource director, so I don’t know much about her and I think if she was doing a good job as an HR director, which I am not hearing anything bad, then why not,” she said.
Another said, “I’m not really sure. We’ll find out how things go. We won’t really know how things would go unless things go into office, takes over, and see how things run with PSS. I really can’t say much. Hopefully it’s for the best,” she said.
A statement from the administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres congratulated Deleon Guerrero’s appointment.
“Since the retirement of Dr. Rita Sablan over three months ago, I am pleased that the Public School System can now focus on the years to come. I congratulate Mrs. Cynthia Deleon Guerrero and look forward to working together in raising the quality of education in the CNMI and reiterating the importance of investing in our youth. Education remains one of our top priorities to better the lives of our community and the health of our economy.”
Deleon Guerrero’s contract as PSS chief would start on Nov. 21. Deleon Guerrero’s acceptance of the offer has already been communicated to the BOE last week.