Julia Keleher’s relationship with Puerto Rico’s education department has shifted for this second time this week.
Two days after stepping down as the island’s education secretary and shifting into the role of paid department adviser, Keleher is no longer advising the department. She confirmed the end of her brand-new job in a message Thursday, the same day that news reports from the island referred to a legislative inquiry into Keleher’s conduct while in office.
Keleher had led the department, which oversees public schools that educate more than 300,000 students in the U.S. territory, from January 2017 until Tuesday. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who picked Keleher to lead the department more than two years ago, announced the same day that Eleuterio Álamo would be her replacement on an interim basis. Álamo most recently oversaw the Puerto Rico education department’s San Juan regional office.
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Keleher’s salary of $250,000 while serving as secretary had been due to carry over to her role as a department adviser on a contractual basis. According to a report in Caribbean Business, she offered to give up her position as an adviser, and Rosselló's chief of staff accepted the termination of the agreement.
After leading the island’s schools through Hurricane Maria in 2017, Keleher won both strong praise and criticism for her push to revamp the island’s schools by closing underused buildings, successfully lobbying for new policies to bolster educational choice, and trying to build stronger connections between K-12 and the island’s business community.