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NJ Education Dept. To Release Criminal Background Check Names Today; Woodbridge BOE Members Passed

The names of the 350+ Board of Education and Charter School officials who will be kicked out of office for not filling out a criminal background check form are due to be released today. Meanwhile, Woodbridge BOE members have passed the check.

Today's the day that the names of the 362 school board members and charter school trustees who haven't filled out a mandatory criminal background check form with the NJ Dept. of Education is due to be released.

Parents in Woodbridge, though, can rest assured that have filled out that form, and none have criminal records, said School Superintendent Dr. John Crowe.

"All our board members took part in that process," Crowe said. "We've received notification that they all passed it." 

Board President Brian Small said he'd be "very surprised" if any of his fellow board members hadn't complied with the Dept. of Education mandate.

Speaking about board members statewide, Small said, "We've had more than enough time to do this. People were made well aware of it. We were all advised verbally and in writing."

Even so, 209 school board members and 153 charter school trustees throughout the state failed to fill out the form, said Dept. of Education spokeswoman Allison Kobus.

There was media mention last week that the names of the recalcitrant school board officials would be released by Friday, but Kobus said that was just inaccurate.

"We had [board members] who weren't in the system. We wanted an accurate list," she said.

Department of Education employees needed the extra time to get in contact with those who failed to fill out the criminal background check form and let them know that because they missed the deadline, "they are ineligible to sit on the board. They cannot part in board activities," Kobus said.

That will create an opening on the board to which anyone can be appointed, Kobus said - including the ousted board member.

"There's nothing in the law that prevents them from doing that," she said.

At that point, the clock would start all over again on the criminal background check requirement, and the newly reappointed board member would have 30 days from the date of appointment to fill out the form.

Of those who completed the background check, 12 have been disqualified from holding office, nine who sat on school boards and three who were trustees for charter schools.

Some are not going quietly. A Plainfield school board member who flunked the background check for heroin possession 40 years ago is fighting his expulsion in court, according to the Star-Ledger.

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