Background Checks Now Required For New Jersey School Board Members
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed A-444 which requires any person elected or appointed to a board of education within the state to undergo a criminal background check within 30 days of being elected or appointed. All current School Board members will also be required to undergo a background check within 30 days of the effective date of the new law, which is effective immediately. Any school board member will be disqualified from serving if they have been convicted of the following criminal offenses:
- Any crime of the first or second degree;
- An offense involving the manufacture, transportation, sale, possession, distribution or habitual use of a controlled dangerous substance or “drug paraphernalia”;
- A crime involving the use of force or the threat of force to or upon a person or property including, but not limited to, robbery, aggravated assault, stalking, kidnapping, arson, manslaughter and murder;
- A third degree crime, or any of the following crimes: recklessly endangering another person; terroristic threats; criminal restraint; luring, enticing child into motor vehicle, structure or isolated area; causing or risking widespread injury or damage; criminal mischief; burglary; threats and other improper influence; perjury and false swearing; resisting arrest;
- Any crime of the fourth degree involving a victim who is a minor; or conspiracy to commit or an attempt to commit any of the aforesaid crimes.
This new law also includes stiff penalties for Board Members when they take their oath of office as they must also declare that they are not disqualified from service due to a conviction of one of crimes listed above. Any member who falsely swears that he/she is not disqualified could face penalties of up to 18 months in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Currently background checks for teachers working within New Jersey fall under the jurisdiction of the Criminal History Review Unit (CHRU) who is responsible for conducting criminal history background checks on employees in the public, private handicap, and nonpublic schools in New Jersey. The criminal history record check process includes a fingerprint search of the applicant/employee by the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Employment Background Investigations, Inc. works with public and private schools in the development and administration of comprehensive background screening programs for teachers, staff members, service personnel, and volunteers.
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