What a state we live in... No wonder the Federal government didn't trust New Jersey with millions of dollars in grants. Maybe if our state government could get its act together...
Published: Friday, August 27, 2010, 11:23 AM Updated: Friday, August 27, 2010, 11:28 AM
Josh Margolin/Statehouse Bureau
TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie fired state education commissioner Bret Schundler this morning after Schundler refused to resign in the wake of the controversy over the state's loss of up to $400 million in federal school funding, two officials briefed on the situation said.
Christie's chief of staff, Richard Bagger, ordered Schundler to turn in his resignation Thursday night after federal officials released a video that appeared to contradict the commissioner's account of what transpired when the New Jersey delegation met with the federal officials to review funding application and review process.
By this morning Schundler had not quit, so Christie ordered his termination.
As education commissioner, Schundler was one of the highest profile members of the governor's cabinet. Governors can fire most cabinet members -- including the educational commissioner -- at will.
The controversy stemmed from the federal Race to the Top competitive grant program for education dollars. N.J. was seeking almost $400 million.
The Race to the Top application had asked for figures on state education funding from 2008 and 2009, but state officials provided figures for 2011. The oversight cost the state 4.8 critical points on a 500-point application. The state missed out on the grant by three points, placing 11th behind Ohio.
Christie originally blamed Washington bureaucrats at a Wednesday press conference, saying they refused to allow the state to fix a simple error in its application. But on Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education released video footage contradicting Christie's claim. The video shows state officials, headed by Schundler, struggling and failing to provide correct budget information during a 90-minute presentation.
In addition, a federal official said the state never provided the required information.
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