After 19 months, N.J. education chief on way to official confirmation

The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee has voted unanimously to support the nomination of Chris Cerf to officially lead the state’s Education Department. A confirmation vote in the full Senate is set for Monday.

Cerf has been heading the Education Department as acting commissioner for 19 months.

A practice known as senatorial courtesy allowed Sen. Ron Rice, D-Essex, to block the confirmation. Cerf says he leased an apartment in Montgomery in Somerset County to be closer to work in Trenton.

That explanation troubled Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nick Scutari.

“If you would have just sat down and said I moved because of Senate rules or Senate courtesy and I had to get a residence somewhere else, I would have accepted that and moved right on,” said Scuteri, D-Union. “But for you to snow job me and tell you moved because you want to be closer to work, I just cannot accept that.”

Despite those concerns, Scutari joined other members of the committee in voting for Cerf’s confirmation.

Cerf says he’ll continue to make decisions based on what’s right for kids and will push to turn around the state’s lowest-performing schools.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.