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Education Vice-Minister Resigns Amid Scandal

January 5, 2007

Public Education Vice-Minister José Lino Rodríguez, who was temporarily suspended late last year because of allegations he used his position to secure promotions for family members, resigned Wednesday, effective immediately.

The government’s Ethics Commission investigated the allegations against Rodríguez and concluded he had violated the Arias administration’s Code of Ethics, according to Rodrigo Arias, the President’s brother and spokesman. The Presidency Minister made the announcement at a press conference Wednesday.

The case came to light in November after the daily La Nación reported that Rodríguez’s wife, ministry employee Monserrat Vindas, received four raises in a single day. On Aug. 1, Vindas, an office worker at Braulio Morales School in Heredia, north of San José, was named a teaching candidate in Paquera, Puntarenas; given an administrative post; named a teacher; and then transferred back to Heredia.

These changes resulted in a salary increase of ¢150,000 ($291.26) per month, the daily reported. The vice-minister, who oversaw the infrastructure and funding of the country’s public schools, told the daily the promotions are legal; he also stated that his wife turned down the raise, continued to work in the primary-school office, and then took disability leave.

In his resignation letter, copies of which were provided to the press, Rodríguez said he had “thought about the negative consequences (these) accusations could generate for the government and my family, in light of the fact that most of (my family members) are Education Ministry officials, not because of favors, but as part of careers in education.”

The President established the Code of Ethics and the independent Ethics Commission in a decree he signed shortly after taking office in May. Its members are Dora María Guzmán, who was the first woman justice on the Supreme Court; Leticia Chacón, a former legislator; and Hernán Vega, former president of the Costa Rican Lawyers’ Association.

 

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