SENATE, No. 372

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2012 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JAMES BEACH

District 6 (Burlington and Camden)

Senator  LINDA R. GREENSTEIN

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes “School Bus Safety and Child Protection Act,” requires periodic criminal background checks for certain school employees; and prohibits interference with school bus monitoring devices.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act establishing “School Bus Safety and Child Protection Act, amending P.L.1989, c.229 and P.L.1986, c.116 and N.J.S.2C:28-7 and supplementing Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

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

 

     1.    Section 6 and 7 of this act shall be known and may be cited as the “School Bus Safety and Child Protection Act.”

 

     2.    N.J.S.2C:28-7 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:28-7. Tampering with public records or information. a. Offense defined.  A person commits an offense if he:

     (1)   Knowingly makes a false entry in, or false alteration of, any record, document or thing belonging to, or received or kept by, the government for information or record, or required by law to be kept by others for information of the government;

     (2)   Makes, presents, offers for filing, or uses any record, document or thing knowing it to be false, and with purpose that it be taken as a genuine part of information or records referred to in paragraph (1);  or

     (3)   Purposely and unlawfully destroys, conceals, removes, mutilates, or otherwise impairs the verity or availability of any such record, document or thing.

     b.    Grading.  An offense under subsection a. is a disorderly persons offense unless the actor's purpose is to defraud or injure anyone, in which case the offense is a crime of the third degree.

     c.     A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if he purposely and unlawfully alters, destroys, conceals, removes or disables any camera or other monitoring device including any videotape, film or other medium used to record sound or images that is installed in a patrol vehicle or a school bus.

(cf:  P.L.2001, c.219, s.1)

 

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

     1.    a.  Any nonpublic school may require all final candidates for employment or service under contract with the school as a teacher, substitute teacher, teacher aide, a school physician, school nurse, custodian, maintenance worker, bus driver, school bus aide, 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 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 and may be conducted every five years for each person employed as a school bus driver or school bus aide.

     b.    Every charter school or school that receives State or federal funds to provide school bus service shall require all final candidates for employment or service under contract with the school as a bus driver or a school bus aide to demonstrate prior to their employment and every five years thereafter, that no criminal history record information exists on file in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Identification Division, or the State Bureau of Identification 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.).

     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. "Charter school" means a school established pursuant to P.L.1995, c.426 (C.18A:36A-1 et seq.).

(cf:  P.L.1998, c.31, s.1)

 

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

     3.    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 and the employee shall be suspended until the charge has been adjudicated.  In the event the employee is deemed guilty of one of the crimes and offenses enumerated in section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1) the employee shall be terminated from employment

(cf:  P.L.2002, c.119, s.2)

 

     5.    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 for pay or contract for the paid services of any teaching staff member 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 which would disqualify that individual from being employed or utilized in such capacity or position. This determination shall be made for persons employed as school bus drivers or school bus aides at the commencement of employment and the determination shall be reviewed every five years thereafter to determine a school bus driver’s or school bus aide’s eligibility for continued employment.  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, 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, or as set forth in R.S.9:6-1 et seq., or as set forth in N.J.S.2C:29-2; 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, or a crime as listed below:

     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)

     Causing or risking widespread injury

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

     Criminal mischief                                          N.J.S.2C:17-3

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

     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

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

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

     Bias intimidation                                           N.J.S.2C:16-1;

     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 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.

     f.     When charges are pending for a crime or any other offense enumerated in this section, the employing board of education shall be notified that the candidate 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.  An individual, except as provided in subsection g. of this section, shall be temporarily suspended from employment or service under this section if the Commissioner of Education receives data in accordance with section 13 of P.L.1998, c.31 (C.18A:6-7.2a) on charges pending against an employee who has previously undergone a criminal history record check until the charge has been adjudicated.  If the employee is deemed guilty of one of the crimes or offenses enumerated in this section, the employee shall be terminated from employment.  

(cf:  P.L.2010, c.122, s.3)

 

     6.    (New section) The results of any criminal history background check conducted for a school bus driver or a school bus aide pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1989, c.229 (C.18A:6-4.13) or section 1 of P.L.1986, c.116 (C.18A:6-7.1) shall be forwarded to the county superintendent of the county in which the school bus driver or school bus aide would be employed.

 

     7.    (New section)  Each school district that has cameras which record images on school buses shall appoint an employee to randomly view  such recorded images during each school year.

 

     8.    This act will take effect on the first day of the third month after enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would establish the “School Bus Safety and Child Protection Act,” requiring criminal background checks for certain school employees and prohibiting interference with school bus monitoring devices.

     The bill would make it a crime of the fourth degree to purposely alter, destroy, conceal or disable a monitoring device, including a camera or other medium used to record sound or images that is installed in a school bus.  A fourth degree crime is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000 or both.

     This bill would also clarify that any school bus aide in the public and charter school systems, and any school that receives public funds for school buses is required to have a background check. Prospective aides and school bus drivers shall also submit to a background check prior to starting employment and every five years thereafter in these schools.  The bill also permits non-public schools to conduct similar background checks to those performed by public schools, charter schools, and schools that receive governmental funding for school buses. The bill would also require that the results of the criminal history background check be sent to the county superintendent of the county in which a bus driver or school bus aide would be employed.

      This bill would require that an employee who commits a disqualifying offense be suspended until the offense is adjudicated, and a conviction or other adverse adjudication would result in termination of the employee’s service.

     The bill also requires each school district that has cameras which record images on school buses to appoint an employee to randomly view such recorded images during each school year.