March 22, 2021
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U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona today sent a letter to The Honorable Pedro Pierluisi, Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, informing him that the U.S. Department of Education (Department) has provided the Commonwealth immediate access to $912 million in Federal education funds, which had not been available to Puerto Rico as a result of previously imposed grant conditions.
These funds include $390 million under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER I) and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER I). The funds also include all fiscal year 2019 Department program grant funds totaling $522 million, including funds under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, and Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The release of funds marks a commitment from the Department and the Biden Administration in supporting Puerto Rico as the Commonwealth recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent natural disasters that have impacted students, families, and educators across the island.
In the letter to Governor Pierluisi, Secretary Cardona stated:
“As we renew our partnership with the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE), I wish to affirm my commitment, and the Department’s commitment, to supporting Puerto Rico and PRDE in a collaborative and mutually respectful manner, with the shared objective of benefitting the students of the Commonwealth.
“As the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico faces the challenges of the pandemic and continues to recover from the hurricanes and the more recent earthquakes, the Department understands the urgency to access vital Federal education funds to meet the needs of Puerto Rican students who are experiencing compounded trauma.
“The Department is committed to partnering with and supporting Puerto Rico in the efficient and effective use of Department funds to serve Puerto Rico’s students, including to safely reopen schools and maximize in-person instructional time.”
The funds released today are now immediately available for use by the Commonwealth. As part of the Department’s commitment to expand equitable access to education, the Department will work with Puerto Rico to identify how these funds may best be used to address the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students in Puerto Rico. The Department is also committed to working in partnership with Puerto Rico to put in place enhanced oversight and accountability measures to ensure that these essential resources result in impactful programs and services for the students of the Commonwealth, and are spent in compliance with the applicable laws and other requirements.