Public school teachers, bus drivers and camp counselors would be subject a Child Abuse Record Information check under a bill sponsored by Senators Anthony Bucco and Steven Oroho. Currently, these employees and job candidates only undergo a criminal background check, which unlike a CARI check, does not show substantiated claims of child abuse. The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Education Committee.
“How many teachers, camp counselors, bus drivers and school employees are child abusers? Under current New Jersey law, we simply do not know,” Senator Bucco (R-Morris) said. “What we do know is that child abusers are falling through the cracks in the system and putting innocent children at risk. Ensuring all current and potential employees have a clean CARI record can end this pervasive threat to our children’s health and welfare.”
S-1210 requires current school district employees, job candidates, and contracted service providers, including school bus drivers, who are required under current law to undergo a criminal history record check to also be required to undergo a child abuse record information check. The child abuse record information check will be conducted by the Department of Children and Families, which maintains the State’s child abuse registry. The bill would also apply to camp counselors.
“There are more than 130,000 public school employees in this state, but under current law, not a single one of these workers is required to undergo a child abuse record check,” Senator Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) said. “Currently, all daycare workers and private preschool employees must undergo a CARI check. We entrust public school employees and camp counselors with our most precious resource, our children, and it is prudent that they should be held to the same justifiable standard. This legislation will close that loophole and ensure children are protected to the greatest extent possible.”
Offenders are only placed on the CARI list if the claims of child abuse have been substantiated. When abuse is substantiated, there is a preponderance of evidence that establishes that a child is an abused or neglected child as defined by the statute; and either the investigation indicates the existence of any of the absolute conditions; or substantiation is warranted based on consideration of the aggravating and mitigating factors.
“The thought of having one’s child taught in school or driven on a bus by a child abuser is frightening,” Rich Pompelio, founder of New Jersey Crime Victims’ Rights Law Center, said. “I am pleased that Senator Bucco and Senator Oroho heard the voices of the many child victims who have been placed at risk by those entrusted each day to guard their safety. This bill should reach the governor’s desk with lightning speed.”