State law, N.J.S.A. 18A:12-1, requires that school board members for public school districts, including charter schools, undergo criminal background checks within 30 days of election or appointment. Incumbent school board members, who were re-elected Nov. 6, do not have to undergo criminal background checks.

Under the law, board members who do not complete the fingerprinting process within the 30- day period following election could be declared ineligible to serve in office. 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 disqualified from office.

NJSBA urges all new board members to complete the fingerprint application as soon as possible in order to address any potential questions before the January organization meetings take place.

In previous years, board members elected in November were permitted to take the oath of office, pending the results of a criminal history background check. However, effective March 6, 2017, that is no longer permissible.

A criminal history background check must be completed within 30 days of the election or appointment in order to take the oath of office, except for board members elected in April, who are an exception to the rule. The 30-day period commences upon certification of the votes or confirmation of the appointment.

To schedule an appointment, access the Criminal History Review Unit’s website.

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 Criminal History Review webpage .

Contact the NJDOE Criminal History Review Unit at (609) 376-3999 for additional information.