N.J. might screen school board candidates for past crimes

 The gold plated dome of the state Capitol in Trenton, New Jersey. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

The gold plated dome of the state Capitol in Trenton, New Jersey. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

In New Jersey, a convicted criminal can run for local school board but, if elected, they are not allowed to serve. Now lawmakers want to prevent them from getting on the ballot in the first place.

Assemblyman Jay Webber says his bill would require school board candidates to certify when they file their nominating petitions that they have no criminal record that would make them ineligible to hold the office.

“Right now people can run for the school board, be selected, then they do a background check and if they find a criminal history in the background check then they have to resign, they have to run another election to select a school board member to replace them. It makes no sense.”

Assemblyman Ron Karabinchak is a co-sponsor of the legislation.

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“After people serve their time and they want to do something good and turn their lives around, unfortunately with a first or second degree offense they’re just not allowed to sit on that board. There are other things they can do. They can donate their time. They can do other things for the board. They can do other things for the schools. They can do anything for their community.”

Lawmakers say the new requirement would save taxpayers time and money by not having to replace a convicted criminal who won a school board race.

The bill was passed unanimously by the Assembly and is awaiting consideration by the state Senate.

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