Post-veto, school board background checks move out of Senate

TRENTON – Having taken the recommendation of a conditional veto into account, the state Senate approved A444 today, in its second tour of the chambers.

The bill, passed 39-0, requires all Board of Education members or charter school trustees to foot the bill for a background check, and disqualifies them from office for certain offenses.

Each board member must swear they have no offenses on their record that would disqualify them from office when they take their seat, and must undergo a criminal background check within 30 days of election or appointment. If they are disqualified for an offense, they would also face a fourth-degree crime of falsifying their application.

The board members may use unexpended campaign funds to pay for the background check.

It passed the state Senate in December, 36-0, and moved through the lower chamber, 76-0-1, in February, before being conditionally vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie in May.

Christie’s conditional veto asked for “two notable discrepancies between this bill and the existing statute” to be corrected, first, by including a third-degree crime of “bias intimidation” as a disqualifying offense (part of the recently passed anti-bullying law), and second, removing as a disqualifying offense “any crime of the fourth degree involving a victim who is a minor” because it is not included in the existing statute.

The legislators have adjusted the bill to reflect the veto, and an amended version was passed by the Assembly, 76-0.

Among the disqualifying offenses are reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, burglary, perjury, or resisting arrest.

 

Post-veto, school board background checks move out of Senate