ASSEMBLY, No. 2093

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

213th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 25, 2008

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE

District 37 (Bergen)

Assemblywoman PAMELA R. LAMPITT

District 6 (Camden)

Assemblyman MATTHEW W. MILAM

District 1 (Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland)

Assemblyman NELSON T. ALBANO

District 1 (Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Revises criminal history record check process undergone by public and nonpublic school employees and school bus drivers.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning criminal history record checks, revising various parts of the statutory law, and supplementing P.L.1986, c.116 and P.L.1989, c.229.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section)  The Legislature finds and declares that:

     a.     The goal of preserving the safety of students in schools is of paramount importance.

     b.    Since 1986 candidates for employment in New Jersey schools have been required to undergo a criminal history record check.

     c.     Many employees in New Jersey schools were hired prior to 1986, and therefore have never been required to undergo a criminal history record check.  Additionally, fingerprint records have not been retained uniformly, nor has all information about subsequent arrests been uniformly shared.

     d.    Fingerprint technology has changed significantly from a standard fingerprint card system to a digitized system.  The digitized system has allowed criminal background checks to be completed in a shorter time period.

     e.     In order to assure the safety of school students and others in our schools, persons who come in contact with students or school property must possess the character and integrity necessary for their positions.

     f.     To ensure that employees possess such qualities, it is imperative that all employees, including those hired prior to 1986, and candidates for employment undergo criminal history record checks, that the checks are regularly updated, and that the list of disqualifying crimes and offenses be made more comprehensive.

 

     2.    Section 1 of P.L.1989, c.229 (C.18A:6-4.13) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    Any nonpublic school may require [all final candidates] applicants for employment or service under contract with the school as an administrator, a teacher, substitute teacher, teacher aide, a school physician, school nurse, custodian, maintenance worker, bus driver, security guard, secretary or clerical worker or for any other position which involves regular contact with pupils, to demonstrate that no criminal history record information exists on file in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Identification Division, [or] the State Bureau of Identification, the Administrative Office of the Courts, or any other verifiable source, which would disqualify that individual from employment in the public schools of this State pursuant to the provisions of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1 et seq.).  Application of this requirement by a nonpublic school shall be consistent and nondiscriminatory among [candidates] applicants.

     A nonpublic school may require a criminal history record check for individuals who, on an unpaid voluntary basis, provide services that involve regular contact with pupils.

     As used in this act, "nonpublic school" means an elementary or secondary school within the State, other than a public school, offering education in grades K-12 or any combination thereof, wherein a child may legally fulfill compulsory school attendance requirements.

(cf: P.L.1998, c.31, s.1)

 

     3.    Section 2 of P.L.1989, c.229 (C.18A:6-4.14) is amended to read as follows:

     2.    [An applicant for employment or service in any of the positions covered by this act shall submit to the Commissioner of Education his or her name, address and fingerprints taken in accordance with procedures established by the commissioner.  The commissioner is hereby authorized to exchange fingerprint data with and to receive criminal history record information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Division of State Police for use in making the determinations required by this act.  No criminal history record check shall be performed pursuant to this act unless the applicant shall have furnished his or her written consent to such a check.] The applicant or employee required to undergo a criminal history record check pursuant to the provisions of P.L.1989, c.229 (C.18A:6-4.13 et seq.) shall bear the cost for the criminal history record check, including all costs for administering and processing the check.

     The nonpublic school may reimburse an applicant or employee for the cost of the check.

     If a nonpublic school requires a criminal history record check for an unpaid volunteer, the nonpublic school shall reimburse the person for the cost of the check.

(cf: P.L.2002, c.119, s.1)

 

     4.    Section 3 of P.L.1989, c.229 (C.18A:6-4.15) is amended to read as follows:

     3.    a. The commissioner shall apply the same requirements, procedures and standards and shall proceed in the same manner as is prescribed in P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1 et seq.) for determining whether the applicant would be qualified or disqualified for employment in the public schools [and shall inform the applicant of his determination in writing. The commissioner shall also provide written notification to the chief administrator of the nonpublic school, which requires the criminal history record check as a condition of employment, of his determination as to whether the candidate would be qualified or disqualified for employment in the public schools.

     Following qualification for employment pursuant to this section, the State Bureau of Identification shall immediately forward to the Commissioner of Education any information which the bureau receives on a charge pending against an employee of the nonpublic school which requires a criminal history record check as a condition of employment.  If the charge is for one of the crimes or offenses enumerated in section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1), the commissioner shall notify the chief administrator of the nonpublic school].

     b.    Upon receipt of the criminal history record information for an applicant from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Bureau of Identification, the Administrative Office of the Courts, or any other verifiable source, the Commissioner of Education shall notify the applicant and the chief administrator of the nonpublic school that requires criminal history record checks as a condition of employment or the contracted service provider, in writing, of the applicant’s qualification or disqualification for employment or service under P.L.1989, c.229 (C.18A:6-4.13 et seq.).  If the applicant is disqualified, the convictions which constitute the basis for the disqualification shall be identified in the written notice to the applicant, and the employing chief administrator of the nonpublic school or the contracted service provider shall deny employment to the applicant. The applicant shall have 30 days from the date of the written notice of disqualification to challenge the accuracy of the criminal history record information. If no challenge is filed or if the  determination of the accuracy of the criminal history record information upholds the disqualification, the applicant shall remain permanently disqualified from employment. A written notice of disqualification for applicants who hold a certificate issued by the State Board of Examiners shall be forwarded to that board.

     c.     When charges are pending for a crime or any other offense enumerated in section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1), the commissioner shall notify the prospective employing nonpublic school chief administrator or the contracted service provider that the applicant shall not be eligible for employment until the commissioner has made a determination regarding qualification or disqualification upon adjudication of the pending charges.

(cf: P.L.2002, c.119, s.2)

 

     5.    Section 4 of P.L.1989, c.229 (C.18A:6-4.16) is amended to read as follows:

     4.    The commissioner may maintain the criminal record and application documents on [a candidate] an applicant or employee  for no longer than three years from the date of a determination as to the [candidate's] person’s qualification or disqualification for employment with an employer.  The three-year retention limitation shall not apply to statistical data on crimes and any other offenses or an ongoing list of [candidates] applicants and employees who are qualified or disqualified.  All documents submitted by [a candidate] an applicant or employee and all criminal history record information shall be maintained by the commissioner in a confidential manner.

(cf: P.L.1998, c.31, s.4)

 

     6.    Section 5 of P.L.1989, c.229 (C.18A:6-4.17) is amended to read as follows:

     5.    An individual employed in any substitute capacity or position by a nonpublic school which requires a criminal history record check as a condition of employment or by a contracted service provider, and who is rehired annually by that [school] employer, shall [only] be required to undergo a criminal history record check authorized pursuant to this act only upon initial employment, provided the substitute continues in the employ of at least one of the employers at which the substitute was employed within one year of the approval of the criminal history record check, and his fingerprint image has been retained by the State Bureau of Identification

(cf: P.L.1989, c.229, s.5)

 

     7.    Section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    A facility, center, school, or school system under the supervision of the Department of Education and board of education which cares for, or is involved in the education of children under the age of 18 shall not [employ] hire for pay or enter into a contract for the paid services of any teaching staff member, including an administrator, or substitute teacher, teacher aide, child study team member, school physician, school nurse, custodian, school maintenance worker, cafeteria worker, school law enforcement officer, school secretary or clerical worker or any other person serving in a position which involves regular contact with pupils unless the employer has first determined consistent with the requirements and standards of this act, that no criminal history record information exists on file in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Identification Division, [or] the State Bureau of Identification, the Administrative Office of the Courts, or any other verifiable source, which would disqualify that individual from being employed or utilized in such capacity or position.  An entity contracting with a board of education for the provision of educational or related services, including extended school year services for students with disabilities, shall ensure that all of its employees whose position involves regular contact with students meet the criminal history record requirements pursuant to P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1 et seq.). An individual employed by a board of education or a school bus contractor holding a contract with a board of education, in the capacity of a school bus driver, shall be required to meet the criminal history record requirements pursuant to section 6 of P.L.1989, c.104 (C.18A:39-19.1).  A facility, center, school, or school system under the supervision of the Department of Education and board of education which cares for, or is involved in the education of children under the age of 18 may require criminal history record checks for individuals who, on an unpaid voluntary basis, provide services that involve regular contact with pupils.  In the case of school districts involved in a sending-receiving relationship, the decision to require criminal history record checks for volunteers shall be made jointly by the boards of education of the sending and receiving districts.

     An [individual, except as provided in subsection g. of this section,] applicant shall be permanently disqualified from employment or service under this act if the individual's criminal history record check reveals a record of conviction for any crime of the first or  second degree; or

     a.     An offense as set forth in chapter 14 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, or as set forth in N.J.S.2C:24-4 [and] , 2C:24-7 and 2C:24-9, or as set forth in R.S.9:6-1 et seq., or a crime as set forth in [N.J.S.2C:29-2] N.J.S.2C:34-1 et seq.; or

     b.    An offense involving the manufacture, transportation, sale, possession, distribution or habitual use of a "controlled dangerous substance" as defined in the "Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1987," N.J.S.2C:35-1 et al. or "drug paraphernalia" as defined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:36-1 et seq.; or

     c.     (1) 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; or

     (2)   A crime as set forth in chapter 39 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, a third degree crime as set forth in chapter 20 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, a crime as set forth in chapter 38 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, or a crime as listed below:

     Leaving scene of accident resulting in death

                                    section 1 of P.L.1997, c.111 (C.2C:11-5.1)

     Recklessly endangering another person    N.J.S.2C:12-2

     Terroristic threats                                      N.J.S.2C:12-3

     Criminal restraint                                      N.J.S.2C:13-2

     Luring, enticing child [into motor

     vehicle, structure or isolated area]             P.L.1993, c.291,

                                                         (C.2C:13-6)

     Human trafficking           section 1 of P.L.2005, c.77 (C.2C:13-8)

     Causing or risking widespread injury

     or damage                                                   N.J.S.2C:17-2

     Criminal mischief (third degree)                    N.J.S.2C:17-3

     Burglary                                                N.J.S.2C:18-2

     Peering                                subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:18-3

     Usury                                                           N.J.S.2C:21-19

     Threats and other improper influence          N.J.S.2C:27-3

     Perjury and false swearing   N.J.S.[2C:28-3]

                                                 2C:28-1 and 2C:28-2

     Resisting arrest                                   N.J.S.2C:29-2

     Escape                                                          N.J.S.2C:29-5

or

     (3)   Conspiracy to commit or an attempt to commit any of the crimes described in this act.

     d.    For the purposes of this section, a conviction exists if the individual has at any time been convicted under the laws of this State or under any similar statutes of the United States or any other [state] jurisdiction for a substantially equivalent crime or other offense.

     e.     [Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, an individual shall not be disqualified from employment or service under this act on the basis of any conviction disclosed by a criminal record check performed pursuant to this act without an opportunity to challenge the accuracy of the disqualifying criminal history record.]  Upon receipt of the criminal history record information for an applicant from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Bureau of Identification, the Administrative Office of the Courts, or any other verifiable source, the Commissioner of Education shall notify the applicant and employing board of education or contracted service provider, in writing, of the applicant’s qualification or disqualification for employment or service under P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1 et seq.).  If the applicant is disqualified, the convictions which constitute the basis for the disqualification shall be identified in the written notice to the applicant, and the employing board of education or contracted service provider shall deny employment to the applicant. The applicant shall have 30 days from the date of the written notice of disqualification to challenge the accuracy of the criminal history record information.  If no challenge is filed or if the determination of the accuracy of the criminal history record information upholds the disqualification, the applicant shall remain permanently disqualified from employment. A written notice of disqualification for applicants who hold a certificate issued by the State Board of Examiners shall be forwarded to that board.

     f.     When charges are pending for a crime or any other offense enumerated in this section, the commissioner shall notify the prospective employing board of education [shall be notified] or contracted service provider that the [candidate] applicant shall not be eligible for employment until the commissioner has made a determination regarding qualification or disqualification upon adjudication of the pending charges.

     g.     [This section shall first apply to criminal history record checks conducted on or after the effective date of P.L.1998, c.31 (C.18A:6-7.1c et al.); except that in the case of an individual employed by a board of education or a contracted service provider who is required to undergo a check upon employment with another board of education or contracted service provider, the individual shall be disqualified only for the following offenses:

     (1)   any offense enumerated in this section prior to the effective date of P.L.1998, c.31 (C.18A:6-7.1c et al.); and

     (2)   any offense enumerated in this section which had not been enumerated  in this section prior to the effective date of P.L.1998, c.31 (C.18A:6-7.1c et al.), if the person was convicted of that offense on or after the effective date of that act.] (Deleted by amendment, P.L.    , c.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)

(cf: P.L.2007, c.82, s.1)

 

     8.    Section 2 of P.L.1987, c.164 (C.18A:6-7.1b) is amended to read as follows:

     2.    An individual employed by a board of education or a contracted service provider in any substitute capacity or position, who is rehired annually by that board or contracted service provider, shall [only] be required to undergo a criminal history record check as required pursuant to P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1 et seq.) only upon initial employment, provided the substitute continues in the employ of at least one of the districts or contracted service providers at which the substitute was employed within one year of the approval of the criminal history record check and his fingerprint image has been retained by the State Bureau of Identification.

(cf: P.L.1998, c.31, s.6)

 

     9.    Section 2 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.2) is amended to read as follows:

     2.    [An applicant for employment or service in any of the positions covered by this act shall submit to the Commissioner of Education his or her name, address and fingerprints taken in accordance with procedures established by the commissioner.  The Commissioner of Education is hereby authorized to exchange fingerprint data with and receive criminal history record information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Division of State Police for use in making the determinations required by this act. No criminal history record check shall be performed pursuant to this act unless the applicant shall have furnished his or her written consent to such a check.] The applicant or employee required to undergo a criminal history record check pursuant to the provisions of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1 et seq.) shall bear the cost for the criminal history record check, including all costs for administering and processing the check.

     If a facility, center, school, or school system under the supervision of the Department of Education or board of education requires a criminal history record check for an unpaid volunteer, the facility, center, school, or school system under the supervision of the Department of Education or school board shall reimburse the [applicant] person for the cost of the check.  A facility, center, school, or school system under the supervision of the Department of Education or board of education may reimburse an applicant or employee serving in a paid position for the cost of the check.

(cf: P.L.2007, c.82, s.2)

 

     10.  Section 13 of P.L.1998, c.31 (C.18A:6-7.2a) is amended to read as follows:

     13.  The Commissioner of Education is authorized to:

     a.     exchange fingerprint data with and receive all criminal history data [necessary to complete the criminal history records check as] from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Bureau of Identification, the Administrative Office of the Courts, or any other verifiable source, for use in making the determinations required pursuant to P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1 et seq.) [and] , section 6 of P.L.1989, c.104 (C.18A:39-19.1), sections 17 and 18 of P.L.    , c.   (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or as permitted pursuant to P.L.1989, c.229 (C.18A:6-4.13 et seq.);

     b.    receive all data in accordance with section 3 of  P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.3), section 6 of P.L.1989, c.104 (C.18A:39-19.1) and section [3 of  P.L.1989, c. 229 (C.18A:6-4.15)] 17 of P.L.    , c.   (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) on charges pending against an employee or school bus driver who has previously undergone a criminal history records check; [and]

     c.     adjust the fees set by the Department of Education for the criminal history records checks.  All administrative fees received by the department for criminal history record checks shall be dedicated for use by the department to administer and enforce P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1 et seq.), section 6 of P.L.1989, c.104 (C.18A:39-19.1), P.L.1989, c.229 (C.18A:6-4.13 et seq.), and P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill);

     d.    share all criminal history record information regarding teaching staff members with the State Board of Examiners; and

     e.     share criminal history record information of an applicant or employee from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Bureau of Identification, the Administrative Office of the Courts, or any other verifiable source, with the appropriate court in order to obtain copies of the judgment of conviction and such other documents as the Commissioner of Education deems necessary to confirm the completeness and accuracy of the record.

(cf: P.L.2002, c.119, s.5)

 

     11.  Section 3 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.3) is amended to read as follows:

     3.    [Upon receipt of the criminal history record information for an applicant from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Division of State Police, the Commissioner of Education shall notify the applicant, in writing, of the applicant's qualification or disqualification for employment or service under this act.  If the applicant is disqualified, the convictions which constitute the basis for the disqualification shall be identified in the written notice to the applicant. The applicant shall have 14 days from the date of the written notice of disqualification to challenge the accuracy of the criminal history record information. If no challenge is filed or if the  determination of the accuracy of the criminal history record information upholds the disqualification, the commissioner shall notify the employing board of education that the applicant has been disqualified from employment, and a copy of the written notice of disqualification for applicants who hold a certificate issued by the State Board of Examiners shall be forwarded to that board.

     The commissioner is authorized to share all criminal history record information regarding teaching staff members with the State Board of Examiners.  In addition, the commissioner is authorized to share criminal history record information of an applicant from the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the State Bureau of Identification with the appropriate court in order to obtain copies of the judgment of conviction and such other documents as the commissioner deems necessary to confirm the completeness and accuracy of the record.]

     [Following qualification for employment pursuant to this section, the] The State Bureau of Identification shall immediately forward to the Commissioner of Education any information which the bureau receives on a charge pending against an employee. If the charge is for one of the crimes or offenses enumerated in section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1), the commissioner shall notify the employing board of education or [contractor] contracted service provider, and the board or [contractor] contracted service provider shall take appropriate action.  If the pending charge results in conviction, the employee shall [not be eligible for continued] be permanently disqualified from employment.

(cf: P.L.2002, c.119, s.6)


     12.  Section 4 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.4) is amended to read as follows:

     4.    The Commissioner of Education may maintain the criminal record and application documents on [a candidate] an applicant or employee for no longer than three years from the date of determination as to the [candidate's] person’s qualification or disqualification for employment with an employer.  The three-year retention limitation  shall not apply to statistical data on crimes and any other offenses or an ongoing list of [candidates] applicants and employees who are qualified or disqualified.  All documents submitted by [a candidate] an applicant or employee and all criminal history record information shall be maintained by the commissioner in a confidential manner.

(cf: P.L.1998, c.31, s.9)

 

     13.  Section 5 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.5) is amended to read as follows:

     5.    Any employer who fails to comply with the provisions of this act shall be subject to a fine of not more than $500.00 for each incident of noncompliance.

(cf: P.L.1986, c.116, s.5)

 

     14.  N.J.S.18A:39-17 is amended to read as follows:

     18A:39-17.  In each school year, prior to the assignment of any driver or substitute driver to any vehicle operated by the board of education of any district as a school bus, there shall be filed by the secretary of such board with the executive county superintendent of schools the name and social security number of each such driver or substitute driver and certification of a valid school bus driver's license, criminal [background] history record check, and evidence of a check for the driver's record of alcohol and drug-related motor vehicle violations pursuant to section 6 of P.L.1989, c.104 (C.18A:39-19.1).

(cf: P.L.2003, c.66, s.2)

 

     15.  N.J.S.18A:39-18 is amended to read as follows:

     18A:39-18.  In each school year, prior to the beginning of transportation of school pupils under a contract awarded by a board of education, the contractor shall furnish to the executive county superintendent of schools the name, social security number, and certification of a valid school bus driver's license and criminal [background] history record check, and evidence of a check for the driver's record of alcohol and drug-related motor vehicle violations pursuant to section 6 of P.L.1989, c.104 (C.18A:39-19.1) of each driver or substitute driver to be assigned to any vehicle in the performance of his contract.

(cf: P.L.2003, c.66, s.3)

     16.  Section 6 of P.L.1989, c.104 (C.18A:39-19.1) is amended to read as follows:

     6.    a.  Prior to employment as a school bus driver, and upon application for renewal of a school bus driver's license, a bus driver shall [submit to the Commissioner of Education his or her name, address and fingerprints] undergo a federal and State criminal history record check in accordance with procedures established by the [commissioner] Commissioner of Education[No criminal history record check or check for alcohol and drug-related motor vehicle violations shall be furnished without his or her written consent to such a check.  The]

     An applicant or school bus driver shall bear the cost for the [checks] criminal history record check or check for alcohol and drug-related motor vehicle violations, including all costs for administering and processing the checks.  The employing board of education or contractor may reimburse an applicant or school bus driver for the cost of the check.

     Upon receipt of the criminal history record information for an applicant from the Federal Bureau of Investigation [and], the Division of State Police, the Administrative Office of the Courts, or any other verifiable source, and information on the check for alcohol and drug-related motor vehicle violations from the [Division of] Motor Vehicle [Services] Commission, the Commissioner of Education shall notify the applicant, and the employing board of education or contractor, in writing, of the applicant's qualification or disqualification as a school bus driver.  If the applicant is disqualified, the convictions which constitute the basis for the disqualification shall be identified in the written notice to the applicant, and the employing board of education or contractor shall immediately remove the applicant from employment.  A school bus driver, except as provided in subsection [e.] g. of this section, shall be permanently disqualified from employment or service if the individual's criminal history record reveals a record of conviction for which public school employment candidates are disqualified pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1) or if the driver has been convicted at least two times within the last 10 years for a violation of R.S.39:4-50, section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a), section 5 of P.L.1990, c.103 (C.39:3-10.13), or section 16 of P.L.1990, c.103 (C.39:3-10.24); or once for a violation of section 5 of P.L.1990, c.103 (C.39:3-10.13) or section 16 of P.L.1990, c.103 (C.39:3-10.24) while transporting school children.

     Following qualification for employment as a school bus driver pursuant to this section, the State Bureau of Identification shall immediately forward to the Commissioner of Education any information which the bureau receives on a charge pending against the school bus driver.  If the charge is for one of the crimes or offenses enumerated in section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1), the commissioner shall notify the employing board of education or contractor, and the board or contractor shall take appropriate action.  If the pending charge results in conviction, the school bus driver shall [not be eligible for continued] be permanently disqualified from employment.

     A school bus driver shall not be eligible to operate a school bus if the individual's bus driver's license is currently revoked or suspended by the [Division of] Motor Vehicle [Services] Commission in accordance with R.S.39:3-10.1.

     Following qualification for employment as a school bus driver, the [Division of] Motor Vehicle [Services] Commission shall immediately forward to the Commissioner of Education any information which the [division] commission receives on a conviction for an alcohol or drug-related motor vehicle violation that would disqualify the driver from  employment pursuant to the provisions of this subsection. The commissioner shall notify the employing board of education or contractor that the driver is [no longer eligible for] permanently disqualified from employment.

     b.    [Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, an]  An individual [shall not be] disqualified from employment or service under this act on the basis of any conviction disclosed by a criminal history record check or a check for alcohol and drug-related motor vehicle violations performed pursuant to this section [without] shall have an opportunity to challenge the accuracy of the disqualifying records.

     c.     When charges are pending for a crime or any other offense enumerated in section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1), the employing board of education or contractor shall be notified that the [candidate] applicant shall not be eligible for employment until the commissioner has made a determination regarding qualification or disqualification upon adjudication of the pending charges.

     d.    The applicant shall have 30 days from the date of the written notice of disqualification to challenge the accuracy of the criminal history record information or the record of convictions for an alcohol or drug-related motor vehicle violation.  If no challenge is filed or if the determination of the accuracy of the criminal history record information or the record of convictions for an alcohol or drug-related motor vehicle violation upholds the disqualification, [notification of the applicant's disqualification for] the applicant shall remain permanently disqualified from employment [shall be forwarded to the Division of Motor Vehicle Services.  The local board of education or the school bus contractor and the County Superintendent of Schools shall also be notified of the disqualification]A notice of disqualification shall be forwarded to the Motor Vehicle Commission and the executive county superintendent of schools.

     Notwithstanding the provisions of any law to the contrary, the [Director of the Division] Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle [Services] Commission shall, upon notice of disqualification from the Commissioner of Education, immediately revoke the applicant's special license issued pursuant to R.S.39:3-10.1 without necessity of a further hearing. 

     [Candidates'] Applicants’ and employees’ records shall be maintained in accordance with the provisions of section 4 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.4).

     e.     [This section shall first apply to criminal history record checks conducted on or after the effective date of P.L.1998, c.31 (C.18A:6-7.1c et al.); except that in the case of a school bus driver employed by a board of education or a contracted service provider who is required to undergo a check upon application for renewal of a school bus driver's license, the individual shall be disqualified only for the following offenses:

     (1)   any offense enumerated in this section prior to the effective date of P.L.1998, c.31 (C.18A:6-7.1c et al.); and

     (2)   any offense enumerated in this section which had not been enumerated in this section prior to the effective date of P.L.1998, c.31 (C.18A:6-7.1c et al.), if the person was convicted of that offense on or after the effective date of that act.] Deleted by amendment, P.L.    , c.   (pending before the Legislature as this bill)

     f.     (1) Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, the check for alcohol and drug-related motor vehicle violations shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this section prior to initial employment as a school bus driver and upon application for renewal of a school bus driver's license until such time as the provisions of the "Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999," Pub. L. 106-159, are effective and implemented by the State.

     (2)   Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, upon the implementation by the State of the "Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999," Pub. L. 106-159, a check for alcohol and drug-related motor vehicle violations shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this section prior to initial employment as a school bus driver.  A check for alcohol and drug-related motor vehicle violations conducted for any subsequent renewal of a school bus driver's license shall be subject to the provisions of the "Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999," Pub. L.106-159.

     (3)   Upon the implementation by the State of the "Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999," Pub. L. 106-159, following qualification for employment as a school bus driver, the [Division of] Motor Vehicle [Services] Commission shall immediately notify the Commissioner of Education of the suspension or revocation of a school bus driver's commercial driver's license.  The commissioner shall notify the employing board of education or contractor of the suspension or revocation, and the employment of the school bus driver shall be immediately terminated.  In the case of a school bus driver whose commercial driver's license has been suspended, the driver may apply for re-employment at the end of the period of suspension.

     g.     The Commissioner of Education shall require a biennial federal criminal history record check of school bus drivers.  These criminal history record checks shall continue until such time as the United States Department of Justice has implemented a program to retain the federal fingerprint image.

     A bus driver employed on the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be permanently disqualified from employment only for the following crimes and offenses:

     (1) any crime or offense enumerated in section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1) prior to the effective date of P.L.1998, c.31 (C.18A:6-7.1c et al.); and

     (2) any crime or offense enumerated in section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1), if that crime or offense was a disqualifying crime or offense at the time the person was convicted of that crime or offense.

(cf: P.L.2003, c.66, s.4)

 

     17.  (New section)  a.  In the case of any nonpublic school which requires a criminal history record check as a condition of employment, the Commissioner of Education shall require:

     (1) a State and federal criminal history record check of any employee of the nonpublic school or contracted service provider who is employed on the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), and who has not had the fingerprint image retained at the State Bureau of Identification.  These checks shall be completed within two years of the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  Employees hired prior to the effective date of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1 et seq.) who have not undergone a criminal history record check shall be processed first;

     (2) beginning two years following the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a biennial federal criminal history record check of employees of the nonpublic school or contracted service provider.  These criminal history record checks shall continue until such time as the United States Department of Justice has implemented a program to retain the federal fingerprint image.

     b.    An employee employed on the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be permanently disqualified from employment only for the following crimes and offenses:

     (1) any crime or offense enumerated in section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1) prior to the effective date of P.L.1998, c.31 (C.18A:6-7.1c et al.); and

     (2) any crime or offense enumerated in section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1), if that crime or offense was a disqualifying crime or offense at the time the person was convicted of that crime or offense.

     c.     Upon receipt of the criminal history record information for an employee from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Bureau of Identification, the Administrative Office of the Courts, or any other verifiable source, the Commissioner of Education shall notify the employee and chief administrator of the nonpublic school that requires a criminal history record check as a condition of employment, or contracted service provider, in writing, of the employee’s qualification or disqualification for employment or service under P.L.1989, c.229 (C.18A:6-4.13 et seq.).  If the employee is disqualified, the convictions which constitute the basis for the disqualification shall be identified in the written notice to the employee, and the employing board of education or contracted service provider shall immediately remove the employee from employment.  The employee shall have 30 days from the date of the written notice of disqualification to challenge the accuracy of the criminal history record information. If no challenge is filed or if the determination of the accuracy of the criminal history record information upholds the disqualification, the employee shall remain permanently disqualified from employment. A written notice of disqualification for employees who hold a certificate issued by the State Board of Examiners shall be forwarded to that board.

     d.    An employee of a contracted service provider employed simultaneously in more than one facility, center, school, or school system shall be required to be fingerprinted for only one of those facilities, centers, schools, or school systems, provided the employee remains employed with the same contracted service provider and his fingerprint image is retained by the State Bureau of Identification.  Individuals employed by one nonpublic school that requires the criminal history record check as a condition of employment may provide services part-time to another facility, center, school, or school system without undergoing a new record check.

     e.     The State Bureau of Identification shall immediately forward to the Commissioner of Education any information which the bureau receives on a charge pending against an employee of the nonpublic school that requires a criminal history record check as a condition of employment or contracted service provider.  If the charge is for one of the crimes or offenses enumerated in section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1), the commissioner shall notify the chief administrator of the nonpublic school or contractor, who shall take appropriate action.  If the pending charge results in conviction, the employee shall be permanently disqualified from employment.

 

     18.  (New section)  a. The Commissioner of Education shall require:

     (1) a State and federal criminal history record check of any employee employed on the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) in a position covered under section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1) who has not had the fingerprint image retained at the State Bureau of Identification. These checks shall be completed within two years of the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  Employees hired prior to the effective date of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1 et seq.) who have not undergone a criminal history record check shall be processed first;

     (2) beginning two years following the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (pending before the Legislature as this bill) a biennial federal criminal history record check of all employees in a position covered under section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1).  These criminal history record checks shall continue until such time as the United States Department of Justice has implemented a program to retain the federal fingerprint image.

     b.    An employee employed on the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be permanently disqualified from employment only for the following crimes and offenses:

     (1) any crime or offense enumerated in section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1) prior to the effective date of P.L.1998, c.31 (C.18A:6-7.1c et al.); and

     (2) any crime or offense enumerated in section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1), if that crime or offense was a disqualifying crime or offense at the time the person was convicted of that crime or offense.

     c.     Upon receipt of the criminal history record information for an employee from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Bureau of Identification, the Administrative Office of the Courts, or any other verifiable source, the Commissioner of Education shall notify the employee and employing board of education or contracted service provider, in writing, of the employee’s qualification or disqualification for employment or service under P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1 et seq.).  If the employee is disqualified, the convictions which constitute the basis for the disqualification shall be identified in the written notice to the employee, and the employing board of education or contracted service provider shall immediately remove the employee from employment. The employee shall have 30 days from the date of the written notice of disqualification to challenge the accuracy of the criminal history record information. If no challenge is filed or if the  determination of the accuracy of the criminal history record information upholds the disqualification, the employee shall remain permanently disqualified from employment. A written notice of disqualification for employees who hold a certificate issued by the State Board of Examiners shall be forwarded to that board.

     d.    An employee of a contracted service provider employed simultaneously in more than one facility, center, school, or school system shall be required to be fingerprinted for only one of those facilities, centers, schools, or school systems, provided the employee remains employed by the same contracted service provider and the fingerprint image is retained by the State Bureau of Identification.  Individuals employed by one school district may provide services part time to another school district without undergoing a new criminal history record check.  Non-tenured teaching staff members who receive a written notice of termination pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1971, c.436 (C.18A:27-10) and are re-hired by that school district the following school year shall not be required to undergo a new criminal history record check.

 

     19.  (New section)  a.  The State Board of Education shall adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), to effectuate the provisions of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill); except that notwithstanding any provision of P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) to the contrary, the commissioner shall, for a period of 12 months following the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), adopt, immediately upon filing with the Office of Administrative Law, such rules and regulations as the commissioner deems necessary to implement P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  All such rules and regulations adopted by the commissioner shall expire no later than 12 months following the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and shall thereafter be amended, adopted, or re-adopted during the following 24-month period by the commissioner in accordance with the provisions of P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.). 

     b.    All such rules and regulations adopted by the commissioner pursuant to subsection a. of this section shall expire no later than 36 months following the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and shall thereafter be amended, adopted or re-adopted by the State board in accordance with the provisions of P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.).

 

     20.  This act shall take effect on the first day of the second month after enactment; except that the Commissioner of Education and the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission may take such administrative and regulatory action in advance as shall be necessary to implement the provisions of this act.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill makes various changes to the laws concerning criminal history record checks of persons in contact with students in New Jersey schools.

     This bill would require employees of public schools who were continuously employed in a school district since prior to 1986 to undergo a criminal history record check.  This was the year in which the original criminal history record check requirement was established, and because the law included a “grandfather” provision, employees of a district who were hired prior to that date have never been required to undergo a record check.  The bill also covers nonpublic school employees and provides that if the nonpublic school requires a criminal history record check as a condition of employment, all current employees who have regular contact with pupils must undergo a criminal history record check.

     The bill also requires that all public school employees, school bus drivers, and persons employed in nonpublic schools that require criminal history record checks as a condition of employment, undergo a federal criminal history record check every two years, until such time as the federal government implements a program to retain the federal fingerprint image.  The State currently has a program in place to retain the State fingerprint image, enabling the employer to be notified in the future of any information received by the State Bureau of Identification on a State charge pending or a criminal conviction against an employee.

     The bill clarifies those persons required to undergo a criminal history record check.  Although by definition an administrator is considered a “teaching staff member” and therefore required under current law to undergo a record check, this bill will include administrators specifically.  The bill also provides that an entity contracting with a board of education for the provision of educational or related services, including extended school year services for students with disabilities, must ensure that all of its employees whose positions involve regular contact with students undergo a criminal history record check.  In addition, the bill clarifies that employees of contracted service providers are required to undergo the record check if they have regular contact with pupils.

     Current law provides that all first and second degree crimes and other specified crimes will permanently disqualify a person from employment in schools.  This bill sets forth new disqualifying crimes, including: N.J.S.2C:34-1 et seq. (prostitution/obscenity); P.L.2002, c.26 (C.2C:38-1 et seq.) (September 11th, 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act); section 1 of P.L.1997, c.111 (C.2C:11-5.1) (leaving scene of accident resulting in death); section 1 of P.L.2005, c.77 (C.2C:13-8) (human trafficking); and subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:18-3 (peering).