Proposed law would keep felons out of NJ school board elections
Two Trenton lawmakers want to keep convicted felons from taking part in school board elections.
Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak, D-Middlesex, says his legislation would require school board candidates to certify before elections that they have not been convicted of first- or second-degree felonies.
"It is going to be up to the candidate to certify that he does not have one of the disqualifying crimes against him," Karabinchak said.
Under current New Jersey law, a person convicted of second- or third-degree crimes can run for school board.
"What we are trying to do is eliminate that in the beginning of the electoral position here — typically a first- and a second-degree offense in the state of New Jersey, and any other comparable equal criminal offense at the federal level," Karabinchak.
Karabinchak says there's a lot riding on the shoulders of school board members, including our children's educational future, "and obviously watching our tax dollars that are spent."
He says being a school board member is "an important position, and these people should have merit when they come into this position."
Right now, if it's discovered a winning candidate is a convicted felon, other board members scramble to replace them, taking the choice away from voters, "the superintendent and the other board members now having to select another person that the public did not elect. It just becomes a mess."
State Sen. Patrick Diegnan will introduce identical legislation in the Senate.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.
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