(TRENTON) – Assembly Education Chairman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex) released the following statement Friday following reports in Gannett, www.northjersey.com and The Star-Ledger that Gov. Chris Christie’s administration pre-approved the $234,065 contract for Parsippany schools Superintendent LeRoy Seitz:
“No one supports exorbitant school superintendent salaries. That’s why I’ve sponsored and pushed forward legislation (A-406) that requires schools to use a model contract developed by the education commissioner when employing a superintendent.
“Unfortunately, we’ve once again we’ve seen the debate on an important education devolve into a sound bite-ridden sideshow. It’s time for this sensationalism to stop.
“Gov. Christie needs to explain how why his administration approved this contract and why he hasn’t been forthright about that approval with New Jersey taxpayers.
“Is he more interested in creating villains, showing off in front of cameras and playing politics than sound public policy?
“What justification can he give for his administration approving a contract the governor himself said represents all that is wrong with New Jersey public schools?
“The Christie administration’s Race to the Top debacle is clear evidence of what happens when political gamesmanship is placed over smart education policy. The governor cannot repeat that mistake. It’s time for him to talk straight with the people of New Jersey about what really happened with this contract.
“The governor needs to provide answers and quickly put all these education-related firestorms aside. We cannot afford continued distractions with the governor’s policies forcing property tax hikes, education cuts and school activity fees, with school construction halted as high-paid state workers sit idle and with the state lacking leadership at both the education and higher education levels.”