The New Jersey Senate has passed legislation sponsored by Senator Anthony Bucco (R-Morris) to require school board candidates to swear that they have not been convicted of a crime that would disqualify them from office.
Sen. Anthony Bucco’s bill would prevent ex-cons from running for school board, by requiring candidates to swear that they haven’t been convicted of a crime that would disqualify them from serving. (©iStock)
“In the last five years, dozens of school board members have had to give up their seats because they committed a crime that disqualified them from serving. This is a colossal waste of taxpayer time and money,” Senator Bucco said. “All school board candidates should be required to go on the record about their criminal background as soon as they decide to run for office. I really don’t think that is too much to ask.”
Senator Bucco’s bill, S-2676, would require school board candidates to file with their nominating petitions specific affirmation that they have not been convicted of crimes that would disqualify them from office.
Under current law, a sitting school board member has to undergo a criminal background check no more than 30 days after they have been elected or appointed. The law also requires them to take an oath of office that includes an affirmation that they have not been convicted of a disqualifying crime. Failing to disclose a disqualifying conviction during the oath is a fourth-degree crime.
In 2012, the first year after that law took effect, 29 school board members were disqualified from serving, after the Department of Education performed more than 5,000 background checks.
“Why wait until after the election is over? My bill will put us ahead of the game by requiring school board candidates to swear that they haven’t been convicted of a disqualifying crime as soon as they file a petition to run,” Senator Bucco added. “This commonsense change will protect the integrity of our elections and of the people we entrust to best represent the needs of our children and our schools.”
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