State law, N.J.S.A. 18A:12-1.2, requires that school board members for public school districts, including charter schools, undergo a criminal history background investigation within 30 days of election or appointment. The 30-day period commences upon certification of the votes or confirmation of the appointment. Incumbent school board members who were reelected Nov. 8 do not have to undergo a new criminal history background investigation.
Under the law, newly elected board members who do not undergo a criminal history background investigation within the 30-day period could be declared ineligible to serve in office until it is submitted. Based on Bd. of Ed. of the Township of Ocean v. Board of Ed. of the Village of Loch Arbour et al., the Department of Education, Office of Student Protection, regards a newly elected board member as having “undergone” a criminal history background investigation if their fingerprints have been submitted to IdentiGO. Importantly, merely having an appointment for submission of fingerprints is insufficient. A newly elected board member can verify that they have “undergone” a criminal history background investigation by providing a receipt and/or payment confirmation from IdentiGo. If the results from the criminal history background investigation are unknown at the time of the reorganization meeting, the newly elected board member may submit an affidavit certifying that they have not been charged with or convicted of any of the disqualifying offenses enumerated in N.J.S.A. 18A:12-1.
If the completed criminal history review reveals conviction(s) for any of the offenses listed in N.J.S.A. 18A:12-1.2, the individual will be immediately disqualified from office.
The New Jersey School Boards Association urges all new board members to complete the fingerprint application as soon as possible to address any potential questions before the January organization meetings take place.
School board members who underwent criminal background checks for employment in another New Jersey school district after Feb. 21, 2003, will have their fingerprints on file. However, they must complete an abbreviated online application process, also accessible at the NJDOE Office of Student Protection webpage.
Contact the NJDOE Office of Student Protection at 609-376-3999 for additional information.