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N.J. education chief fired over grant gaffe

Associated Press / August 28, 2010

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TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie fired his education commissioner yesterday, days after it was revealed that a simple mistake on an application form might have cost the state a $400 million education grant.

The dismissal of Commissioner Bret Schundler comes after New Jersey became the top runner-up for the Race to the Top grants, missing by a few points. The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that budget figures for the wrong years were supplied in a section of the application.

Christie defended Schundler on Wednesday and said this week that Schundler supplied the missing information during a meeting in Washington this month. But a video released Thursday by the Education Department shows otherwise.

“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 by the New Jersey Department of Education and which I then conveyed to the people of New Jersey,’’ Christie said in a statement yesterday. “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.’’

Schundler said in a telephone interview yesterday that he was disappointed with being dismissed. “We could have been very successful at accelerating reforms in New Jersey,’’ he said.

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