The New Jersey Education Department gave a reprieve last week to more than 180 school board members and charter-school trustees who faced the loss of their seats over the lack of criminal background checks.
We recently reported that the law, which went into effect in May, required people responsible for deciding local school policies and budgets to undergo background checks by the end of 2011 or be immediately removed from office. Crimes that would bar someone from serving included murder, robbery, luring a child, assault and drug possession or distribution. As 2012 dawned, however, more than 300 board members still hadn’t complied.
Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf’s reprieve allows school board members to complete the fingerprinting requirement by Jan. 27 to be eligible to remain on their respective board if they are cleared through the background check process. Background checks will be required from now on for all school board members and charter trustees. School employees have had to get background checks since a law passed in 1986.