Seventeen school board members in New Jersey will have to step down from their elected posts because they have a criminal conviction on their records. Another 12 school board members in New Jersey must also step down for not submitting their background checks in time.
Under a new law, board members had to submit fingerprints and a criminal background check. That's the same procedure all school personnel must go through. Any member found to have a felony conviction in the first or second degree would be disqualified and have to step down.
Frank Belluscio, spokesman for the New Jersey School Board's Association, doesn’t have a problem with school board members undergoing the tests. But his organization is advocating the law be amended so it includes an appeals process.
“An infraction that might have occurred 30 years ago, if it did not involve child endangerment or a really egregious violent act, perhaps there ought to be some consideration if someone has a solid record of community service,” Belluscio said.
The board members deemed disqualified or ineligible make up a tiny fraction of the 5,159 school board members who did comply, according to the N.J. Department of Education.
Depending on the type of school district, the mayor or other CEO or Executive County Superintendent will select a replacement.