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Child Abuse Background Checks For School Employees Goes To NJ Senate

Brookfield Police are asking drivers to remember that school is back in session on Wednesday and to be ready to stop for school buses picking up and dropping off students.
Brookfield Police are asking drivers to remember that school is back in session on Wednesday and to be ready to stop for school buses picking up and dropping off students. Photo Credit: FACEBOOK photo

Public school teachers, bus drivers and camp counselors in New Jersey would have to undergo a child abuse background check if a measure being considered by the state Senate becomes law.

“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, the measure's sponsor. “It is appalling that New Jersey does not require background checks that red flag employees with substantiated claims of child abuse.”

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

The new measure would have them joining all daycare workers and private preschool employees in undergoing a Child Abuse Record Information check.

“A standard criminal background check is simply not enough," said Bucco (R-Morris). "Unless we mandate CARI checks for all job candidates and current employees at New Jersey’s public schools, we will fail to protect a number of innocent children from the horrors of child abuse.

"This dangerous oversight in state law must be corrected immediately.”

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," Pompelio said. "This bill should reach the governor’s desk with lightning speed.”

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