(4th LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT) — Assemblyman Paul Moriarty on Friday questioned Gov. Chris Christie’s privatization plan to cut state oversight of preschools, saying that policy could open the door to more Kiddie Kollege debacles.

Christie’s plan calls for reducing state oversight of preschool construction and changing the rules to make it easier for private providers to run them.

“It’s stunning that Gov. Christie learned nothing from the tragedy that was Kiddie Kollege,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “A lack of oversight and irresponsible private management put the welfare of our children at risk, and under the Christie plan we could see that become commonplace throughout our state. That’s unacceptable.”

Kiddie Kollege — a day care center in Franklin Township — was shut down in 2006 after state environmental officials discovered it had been operating in a bankrupt thermometer factory for two years, even though the building was previously classified as a toxic site.

Roughly 60 children tested positive for mercury exposure, and the building registered a level of mercury 27 times above acceptable limits.

Moriarty has fought to toughen oversight and penalties for exposing children to toxins.

“We’ve made a lot of progress that now is at risk of being erased under Gov. Christie’s return to the failed Republican policies of the past,” Moriarty said. “We all want cut costs, but we cannot do so with a flawed plan that puts the health of our children at risk.”

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