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NJ Considers Child Abuse Background Checks For School Employees

Cuffs Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT file photo

Public school teachers, bus drivers and camp counselors in New Jersey would have to undergo a child abuse background check under a measure advanced by a legislative committee in Trenton.

Those employees and job candidates currently undergo a criminal background check that doesn't show substantiated claims of child abuse.

The state Senate Education Committee on Monday unanimously approved a measure that would have them joining all daycare workers and private preschool employees in undergoing a Child Abuse Record Information check.

“How many teachers, camp counselors, bus drivers and school employees are child abusers? Under current New Jersey law, we simply do not know,” said state Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Morris).

"What we do know is that child abusers are falling through the cracks in the system and putting innocent children at risk," he said.

S-1210 would require 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 would 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.

Offenders are placed on the CARI list only if the claims of child abuse have been substantiated.

"The thought of having one’s child taught in school or driven on a bus by a child abuser is frightening,” said Rich Pompelio, the founder of New Jersey Crime Victims’ Rights Law Center. “I am pleased that [supporters] 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.”

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