STATE – Gov. Chris Christie fired state education commissioner Bret Schundler Friday morning following the controversy caused by the state’s failure to win $400 million in federal school funding due in part to an error on the application.
New Jersey officials responded to a question that asked for data from 2008 and 2009 with numbers for 2010 and 2011. The question was worth five points on the application, and New Jersey missed winning the money by just three points.
After the error became public, Christie blamed Washington bureaucrats for not allowing New Jersey to fix the error.
“When we went in for the personal interview, two weeks before the decision was made they raised the issue with us,” Christie said Wednesday. “Commissioner Schundler gave them, in the interview, the numbers for ’08 and ’09 because the mistake was raised. But they still didn’t give us the credit for the points.”
On Thursday, U.S. Department of Education officials released a video that shows Schundler and other state officials failed to provide the information during the interview.
Christie clarified that his earlier statements had been based on information conveyed to him about a meeting he had not attended.
“I was extremely disappointed to learn that the videotape of the Race to the Top presentation was not consistent with the information provided to me,” the governor said in a statement today. “As a result, I ordered an end to Bret Schundler’s service as New Jersey’s Education Commissioner and as a member of my administration.”
Democrats weren’t satisfied with the move.
“Firing someone provides no answers as to how we submitted an inaccurate application to the federal government for critical education funding,” said state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), chair of the Senate Education Committee and vice chair of the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee.
“More importantly, it tells us nothing about how we are going to institute the measures of change that our state was moving toward before this occurred…. New Jersey’s students deserve answers. But more than that, they deserve an effective state government that is committed to their educational success.”
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