Bill Barring School Board Candidates With Criminal Convictions Advances

Assemblyman Rob Karabinchak, who sponsored the bill along with Assembly Speaker Vince Prieto.

Assemblyman Rob Karabinchak, who sponsored the bill along with Assembly Speaker Vince Prieto. New Jersey Legislature

Hopefuls with criminal convictions could soon be barred from running for local New Jersey school boards. A legislative committee advanced a bill to force would-be school board candidates to submit an affirmation to the state that he or she has not been convicted of any first or second-degree crime on Monday.

Those disqualifying convictions would include endangering the welfare of a child; drug possession or distribution; robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, stalking, kidnapping, arson, manslaughter and murder; terroristic threats; criminal restraint; perjury, and bias intimidation.

Assembly sponsor Robert Karabinchak said in a statement after the committee vote that he believes the new requirement would help protect students in the state.

“Men and women who seek election to school boards are ultimately responsible for the education, safety, health and welfare of our children,” Karabinchak wrote. “Protecting our students and setting good examples is our top priority, which makes it crucial that we preserve the sanctity of our school boards.”

Co-sponsor and Assembly Speaker Vince Prieto echoed that sentiment.

“School board members are the guardians of our children’s education and must lead by example,” Prieto said.  “This bill will ensure that convicted criminals are not elected to these posts while also ensuring that taxpayers’ time and money are not wasted should they attempt to run.”

The assemblymen were compelled by a case in Edison where Democratic school board candidate Nilesh Dasondi, one of five people running for that seat on the city’s Board of Education, successfully filed his nominating petition despite a 2009 conviction for falsifying immigration papers with the federal government.

Dasdoni served six months in federal prison for selling $850,000 worth of fake H1B visas to undocumented immigrants he claimed as employees. Keith Hahn, chairman of Edison Democratic Organization, told MyCentralJersey that Dasdoni will not have the support of his organization.

The bill awaits a vote by the lower house, with State Senator Patrick Diegnan sponsoring an identical bill in the Senate.

Bill Barring School Board Candidates With Criminal Convictions Advances