TRENTON – Senate Education Committee Chair Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) and Senator Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) released the following joint statement regarding today’s committee hearing on reported fiscal mismanagement in the Trenton School District. The committee heard testimony from Acting Education Commissioner Rochelle Hendricks, State Auditor Stephen Eels, state-appointed Fiscal Monitor Mark Cowell, Trenton School District Superintendent Rodney Lofton, and other top district and state education officials:
“The chronic, fiscal mismanagement that took place in the Trenton School District is tragic for the students in the classrooms the education funding never reached, as well as taxpayers who saw their money squandered.
“There are still many unanswered questions about how such egregious acts of waste and abuse went on for so long, without the state stepping in to correct the problems.
“What we do know is that a state fiscal monitor is now in place and appears to be restoring order. We now must turn our attention to fixing the broader problem, by empowering the state to put a stop to irresponsible management practices in our schools the moment a red flag is raised — not after millions of dollars have already gone out the door.
“The state Department of Education has pledged to work with the committee by putting forth recommendations that will strengthen the state’s ability to identify and correct mismanagement.
“We look forward to working with the department and taking the necessary legislative action to develop institutional controls that will improve public education for all of the students of our state.”