NEWARK, NJ (AP / WCBS 880) – More than 350 local school board members in New Jersey face losing their jobs or even going to jail for not completing a criminal background check required under a new law.
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Board members were required to complete the background check by Dec. 31.
165 charter school board officials and 189 non-charter school board members failed to submit the background check in time.
Under legislation passed last year, they are required to resign their positions immediately and could be charged with a fourth-degree crime if they refuse to step down.
The law is the only one of its kind in the nation and disqualifies anyone convicted of certain crimes from serving on a board of education or charter school board.
Prospective teachers are ineligible to work in schools if they have been convicted of certain crimes. Supporters of the bill said at the time of its signing in May that it makes sense for school board members to be held to the same standard.
A spokesman for the state Department of Education said the names of the board members who didn’t comply could be released by the end of the week. Richard Vespucci said the state sent reminders to board members over the summer and in early December.
Board members who didn’t comply and come to school board meetings and try to vote on measures risk being arrested, the law’s sponsor, Green told the newspaper.
Frank Belluscio, spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association, said some school officials may have been confused about when the submit the criminal history review due to a delay in the spring when the Department of Education didn’t have access to the FBI’s criminal history database.
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