Senate Republicans Joe Pennacchio and Anthony Bucco have introduced a bill to prevent a person who has been investigated for child abuse or sexual misconduct from working at a New Jersey public or charter school.
“We cannot afford to take chances when it comes to protecting children from the lifelong scars of abuse,” Senator Pennacchio said. “Why should we prioritize a person who has been accused of such a heinous crime over the safety of innocent children? It is an unconscionable miscarriage of justice that this state is more concerned with protecting a job candidate’s reputation than keeping child predators out of our schools. This legislation is long overdue.”
We need to ask ourselves what's more important: keep sex abusers away from our kids, or a job candidate's reputation https://t.co/09ebOqMtb0
— Sen. Joe Pennacchio (@joepennacchio) January 13, 2017
We can't take any chances. One abuser who slips through the cracks in the system could harm thousands of children. https://t.co/dMSBVQrjLc
— Sen. Anthony Bucco (@tonybucco) January 13, 2017
S-2917 requires school districts, charter schools and contracted service providers to conduct a thorough review of an applicant’s employment history to ascertain allegations of child abuse or sexual misconduct.
An applicant who fails to disclose allegations of child abuse or sexual misconduct would be subject to the same penalties imposed for giving false statements law enforcement authorities. This would apply to any candidate who applies for a position involving regular contact with children.
The information obtained during the review of employment history will not be public record. However, the employer would be required to disclose the discovery of allegations to the NJ Department of Education.
“There are more than 130,000 public school employees working in this state – all will eventually leave or retire,” Senator Bucco said. “One abuser who slips through the cracks in the system could harm thousands of children. Until we change the law, New Jersey schools will continue greenlight applications of child abusers and sexual predators. I implore my colleagues in the legislature to think of our children and immediately act on this bill.”