State legislature and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie passed a law that requires criminal background screenings for school board members, NJSpotlight reports.
Since the law was enacted in May, ensuring it's practiced statewide has been a laborious task for officials. According to the news source, just over 2,000 of the 4,800 board members have had their backgrounds checked, but fortunately only seven have been labeled as having disqualifying criminal records. Three of those seven board members have stepped down, but the state wouldn't disclose the details of their offenses, nor the districts to which they were previously working for. The remaining members in question may seek to expunge their record, which could restore their eligibility, the news source states. Some may feel this ensures the safety of the children, while others suggest certain offenses committed years ago have no bearing on current employment. The Plainfield Board of Education is challenging the state's order to remove Rasheed Abdul-Haqq, a board member, from his elected position. Abdul-Haqq was convicted of a drug offense in the 1960s. "I legally got elected, followed all the rules, and in a way have not been given my due process," he said last night. "Voters should have the right to determine who is elected in a community. Maybe we should have to declare if there is a record, but it should be up to the community."