Gov. Chris Christie has named Assistant Education Commissioner ROchelle Hendricks to replace ousted commissioner Bret Schundler on an interim basis.
Hendricks served as Assistant Commissioner for the Division of School Effectiveness and Choice and will replace Schundler while a nationwide search is conducted. Hendricks was one of the DOE officials who fumbled reviewers questions about funding during the agency’s presentation of its Race to the Top Application.
“I am glad to step into this new role at the department to ensure that Governor Christie’s bold reform agenda moves forward without interruption,” said Hendricks. “The governor has made educational excellence and high student achievement a top priority, and that commitment will continue to be the driving force in the activities of the Department of Education.
According to a release from the governor’s office Hendricks has worked on education issues in the state for more than 20 years and has served in several capacities within the department since the administration of republican Gov. Tom Kean.
Gregg Edwards will serve as Hendricks’ chief of staff and will temporarily relinquish his current position as Director of Policy in the Office of the Governor.
Meanwhile the war of words between the front office and Schundler continued as the governor’s chief spokesman refuted a claim by Schundler that he had asked to be fired rather than resign so he could collect unemployment benefits.
Spokesman Michael Drewniak told the Asbury Park Press that Schundler had at first agreed to resign and then reneged on the deal early this morning, forcing Christie’s hand. Drewniak also accused Schundler of damaging his own reputation on his way out the door.
“We regret that Mr. Schundler continues to sully his own image by engaging in revisionist history,” Drewniak said in a release. “His attempts to cover up misleading the Governor are evidenced by the contrast between his letter to Secretary Duncan, in which he describes making a verbal clarification at the presentation, and the video released by the U.S. Department of Education. Mr. Schundler was the Administration’s only source for what occurred in the Race to the Top presentation. All of the Governor’s statements were based on Mr. Schundler’s account.”