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NJ Education Chief Fired for '$400M Typo'

By Laura Strachan, Esq. on August 30, 2010 10:51 AM

Mistakes happen. However, when there is a $400 million typo in the Garden State's Race to the Top application, the mistake can cost dollars and now a job with the New Jersey Education Commission. The clerical error on the part of New Jersey Education Commissioner Bret Schundler has led to his very public firing. Schundler was a candidate for governor in 2001 and an outspoken proponent of education reform.

Race to the Top funds awarded $400 million to the top ten states with the most ambitious K-12 education reforms. The money for the state competition came from President Obama's economic stimulus package. A points-based competition, New Jersey placed 11th overall, missing out of the funding by 3 points, according to Reuters.

New Jersey's application included budget figures for the wrong school year in one section, a mistake New Jersey governor Chris Christie believes cost the state its spot in the top ten. NJ.com quotes New Jersey State Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono: "The facts as I understand them, the stated purpose of asking the governor's office to fire him instead of resigning, was so he will then qualify to receive unemployment benefits from the state of New Jersey that he would not otherwise qualify for."

Although the state's unemployment benefits, a temporary financial fix for those individuals out of work, will not equate to the $141,000 paycheck Bret Schdundler was receiving as Education Commissioner, the case of the clerical error is not over yet. Senate and Assembly Democrats plan on holding a hearing on how exactly the errors occurred.

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