Members of school boards and charter school trustees now have several more days to have criminal background checks completed, the state Department of Education has announced.
"Our priority throughout this process is to ensure compliance with the law while minimizing disruption to boards of education," a spokesperson said via email. "Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf has granted an extension to board members that received a letter of ineligibility earlier this week. Any board member that completes the fingerprinting requirement within two weeks – by January 27 – will be eligible to remain on their board if they are cleared through the background check. If a board member does not comply by that date, their ineligibility letter will become effective."
School board members and charter school trustees have had several months to comply with a law, enacted last year, which says that every board member must undergo a criminal background check in order to remain eligible. Board members and trustees can be removed if they fail to undergo the checks or if they have been convicted of any of a broad range of crimes including offenses involving children, weapons or narcotics.
The state announced last week that nearly 200 school officials across the state had been deemed ineligible to serve and had to step down immiedtaely for failing to comply with the law.The list included more than two dozen Newark school officials.
But the list of those deemed ineligible released last week contained at least some errors. At least one Newark trustee barred from serving had already stepped down from a board, while another person had never served as a trustee. Two more people deemed ineligible are not currently serving as trustees.