Puerto Rico Department of Education

Last updated
Puerto Rico Department of Education
DE Logo '17 Redondo Blanco.png
Agency overview
FormedApril 12, 1900;121 years ago (1900-04-12)
Preceding agency
  • Department of Public Instruction of Puerto Rico
Type Executive department
Jurisdiction Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
Headquarters San Juan, PR
Annual budget$3.5 billion USD
Agency executive
Key documents
Website www.de.pr.gov

The Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDOE) is one of only four state/territory wide public education system in the United States (Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa being the other). The PRDOE is the state education agency responsible of managing state-operated schools in Puerto Rico as well as its education system and curricula. [1] The department, headquartered in the Hato Rey area of San Juan, [2] is the result of a United States state department of education. It is also the largest agency of the executive branch of Puerto Rico, with, as of 2013, an annual budget of more than $3.5 billion USD and over 72,000 staff—including more than 41,000 teachers, [3] [4] and as of 2020 the department is the third-largest school district in the United States by enrollment, with over 473,000 students and over 1,500 schools. [5] [6]


The department was formerly known as the Department of Public Instruction of Puerto Rico. Under local law, all public schools are required to be licensed by the Puerto Rico Education Council. The existence of a physical plant, the presence of labs and a library, and sanitary conditions, a well as a satisfactory curriculum and properly trained teachers, are all factors considered in the process. The licensing is an important consumer rights issues for parents in both public and private schools. The licensing makes it more straightforward for parents when evaluating schools for their children relating to both quality and compliance. It also clarifies the remedies available to parents where their children's education falls below the expected standard. It was legislated to provide parents of students attending public schools the same level of protection as parents in private schools, by requiring the minimum standards of quality applicable to private school attendees.


In 1950, there were 74 districts each managed by a superintendent. Juan Bernardo Huyke who was the superintendent of the Bayamón district in 1950, and also served as the Secretary of Education of Puerto Rico; he wrote a number of books and was a strong proponent of bilingual education for the island public school students. [7]

A public school in Naguabo, Puerto Rico in 2020 Escuela Desiderio Mendez Rodriguez en Maizalez, Naguabo, Puerto Rico.jpg
A public school in Naguabo, Puerto Rico in 2020

In 2017, Julia Keleher became the department's secretary. That year, due to the Puerto Rican government-debt crisis, the department announced that 187 schools would close and that number was revised to 179 shortly afterwards. [8] Receiving no maintenance once shuttered, the school buildings caused blight in many communities that subsequently hoped to use the school buildings and premises for other purposes. [9] In Lares, it was decided that unused public schools, including one in Piletas Arce (on Puerto Rico Highway 129), would be transformed for use by the agricultural industry of Lares. [10]

In September 2020, the US Trump administration approved $13 billion, through FEMA, to Puerto Rico destined to rebuild the electrical infrastructure and education system. [11] The department continues to struggle fiscally in 2021. Interim secretary Eliezer Ramos Parés informed the agency had witnessed cuts of $749 million from both state and local sources and as a result lacked $58 million needed for wages. [12]

The 2019–20 Puerto Rico earthquakes resulted in various schools damaged and shuttered. Delays in receiving funds for repairs hampered efforts to resume classes. [13]

In 2021 the department announced summer classes to help 37,000 students which are at risk of not passing to the next grade, in part due to problems related to online learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in Puerto Rico. [14] This represented at least 20% of the student population at risk of failing. [15] During the 2021 spring semester governor Pedro Pierluisi attempted to reopen schools which had been shuttered due to the pandemic but these plans where delayed. The school reopening process demonstrated some schools lacked teachers, psychologist and custodians. [16]

School uniforms

Three students at the Belen Blanco de Zequeira School in Loiza Students at Belen Blanco De Zequeira, Loiza, Puerto Rico.jpg
Three students at the Belen Blanco de Zequeira School in Loíza

The department formerly required all students to wear school uniforms and only disallowed them for medical exemptions. [17] In 2020 the department indicated any single colored t-shirt, polo or button shirt is acceptable. Public schools are prohibited from requiring a specific school uniform and as a result the purchase of school clothing is open to the free market. [18] These changes would be implemented from the 2021-2022 academic year. [19]


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  1. "Data for the Biennial Report to Congress on Violence and Drug Use in Elementary and Secondary Schools in Puerto Rico Archived 2014-05-27 at the Wayback Machine ." Puerto Rico Department of Education
  2. Home page. Department of Education of Puerto Rico. Retrieved on May 6, 2017. "Dirección Física: Ave. Tnte. César González, esq. Calle Juan Calaf, Urb. Industrial Tres Monjitas, Hato Rey, P.R. 00917"
  3. ¿Cómo negociar con el Departamento de Educación de Puerto Rico? (in Spanish), Department of Education of Puerto Rico, archived from the original on 2014-05-28, retrieved August 5, 2013, El Departamento de Educación es la agencia más grande de toda la Rama Ejecutiva del Gobierno del Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico. Esta agencia cuenta con alrededor de setenta y dos mil (72,000) empleados, distribuidos en 1,538 escuelas, ochenta y cuatro (84) distritos escolares, diez (10) regiones educativas y una oficina central,
  4. Presupuesto Aprobado 2012–2013 Departamento de Educación (in Spanish), Office of Management and Budget of Puerto Rico , retrieved August 5, 2013
  5. Sable, Jennifer; Plotts, Chris; Mitchell, Lindsey; Chen, Chen-Su (November 2010), Characteristics of the 100 Largest Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts in the United States: 2008–09 (PDF), Institute of Education Sciences , retrieved August 5, 2013
  6. Miller, Gary; Lugo, Ariel (June 2009), Guide to the Ecological Systems of Puerto Rico. (PDF), International Institute of Tropical Forestry , retrieved August 4, 2013, ... making it the third largest school district in the United States.
  7. United States. Federal Security Agency; United States. Office of Education (1950). Education Directory. DHEW publication. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 5-PA65. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  8. Coto, Danica (2017-05-05). "Puerto Rico to close 184 public schools amid crisis". ABC News . Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  9. Collazo, Fernando. "Bayamón busca se declaren estorbo 10 escuelas cerradas" [Bayamón looks for 10 closed schools to be declared a public nuisance]. Metro (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-06-05.
  10. Services, Inter News (2017-04-21). "DTOP traspasa escuelas en desuso al municipio de Lares" [DTOP passes schools not being used to the Municipality of Lares, Puerto Rico ]. Metro (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-06-05.
  11. "Trump Administration Gives $13 Billion in Aid to Puerto Rico". Bay News 9. 18 September 2020. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  12. "Educación necesita $85 millones adicionales para cumplir con el pago de nómina para el próximo año fiscal" [Education needs an additional $85 million to meet payments of wages for the next fiscal year]. El Nuevo Día (in Spanish). 2021-06-07. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  13. Ramosy, Tatiana Díaz (2020-04-22). "Casi tres años de retraso continuo marcan la realidad de las comunidades escolares del sur" [Almost three years of continuous delay mark tbe reality for southern school communities]. Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  14. "Educación tratará de salvar en tres semanas a más de 37,000 estudiantes en riesgo de fracaso" [In three weeks education will attempt to save more than 37,000 students at risk of failure.]. Primera Hora (Puerto Rico) (in Spanish). 2021-05-10. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  15. Univision. "Departamento de Educación planea estrategias para evitar fracaso académico de casi 20% de los estudiantes" [Department of education plans strategies to avoid academic failure of almost 20% of students]. Univision (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  16. Martínezy, Tatiana Díaz RamosyJosé M. Encarnación (2021-03-09). "Retrasada la carrera para reabrir las escuelas públicas" [Delayed the race to reopen public schools]. Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  17. Reglamento de Estudiantes (PDF) (in Spanish), Department of Education of Puerto Rico, archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-05-28, retrieved March 22, 2009
  18. Martinez, Julie. "Educación anuncia nueva política pública de uniformes escolares". Departamento de Educación (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  19. Martinez, Julie. "Educación anuncia moratoria en la implementación del nuevo uniforme escolar". Departamento de Educación (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-06-08.