Fernandez to lobby for lifting of GDOE high-risk status in DC

“We look forward to welcoming our students and faculty back from the holiday break, and to a successful last half of the school year,” GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said.

Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez will be meeting with federal officials this week in Washington D.C. to discuss GDOE’s high-risk status.

Accompanying Fernandez are Guam Education Board Chairman Mark Mendiola and Vice Speaker Telena Nelson.

The visit will include meetings with Assistant Secretary Frank Brogan, who oversees Elementary and Secondary Education for the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE).

As part of the visit, Fernandez will request that USDOE render a decision on Guam’s request for reconsideration of special conditions associated with high risk by July 1, 2020.

According to GDOE public information officer Isa Baza, the department submitted an official request for reconsideration of special conditions way back in May 2018. This led to the Reconsideration Evaluation Plan (REP), which outlined items that needed to be submitted before a decision was rendered.

Two pre-assessment visits took place in May and July 2019, with USDOE acknowledging that four of the seven special conditions associated with the high-risk designation have been met.

This leaves three special conditions in place, including the requirement for a Third Party Fiduciary Agent (TPFA), which has cost GDOE $25 million since 2009.

In an interview with the Patti Arroyo show on NewsTalk K57, Fernandez said he is hopeful that the REP can be completed before the end of the year.

Once the REP is completed, GDOE will request that USDOE conduct a final assessment within the first three months of 2020.

“We believe we have made tremendous progress in addressing all of the areas of concern that led the department to be designated as high-risk and that we have built the capacity to sustain these improvements,” Fernandez said in a news release.

He added: “A key component to the progress we have been making has been the support received from our key elected officials, including the Governor, Legislature, Congressional representative and Public Auditor. This ‘One Guam’ approach is critical to our success, and therefore, we appreciate the introduction of Resolution 249-35 to offer the Legislature’s support.”

Resolution 249-35, introduced by Vice Speaker Telena Nelson and Senator Amanda Shelton, aims to support GDOE’s efforts to address its high-risk designation, specific conditions, and to return financial management and control over federal funds to the GDOE.