The Bucco bill, which requires additional background checks for all school employees, heads to the senate floor.

The bill mandates the currently not required Child Abuse Record Information (CARI) check for all public school employees.

The Senate Budget Committee has passed legislation sponsored by Senator Anthony Bucco (R-Morris) to subject all public school employees to a Child Abuse Record Information background check.

“It is appalling that New Jersey does not require background checks that red flag employees with substantiated claims of child abuse,” Senator Bucco said. “A standard criminal background check is simply not enough. 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.”

S1210 requires 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. CARI checks for public school employees are not currently required by the state.

The child abuse record information check will be conducted by the Department of Children and Families, which maintains the State’s child abuse registry.

“Over the past 25 years, the New Jersey Crime Victims’ Law Center has seen thousands of innocent children shattered by the scourge of sexual abuse committed on them by adults they trusted,” Richard Pompelio, New Jersey Crime Victims’ Law Center, said. “The need and the desire on the part of those who have the power to protect our children must be ever present and ever vigilant. The passage of this legislation will build another important protective wall in shielding our precious loved ones from a substantial risk of harm from predatory conduct.

Offenders are only placed on the CARI list if the claims of child abuse have been substantiated. When abuse is substantiated, there is a preponderance of evidence that establishes that a child is an abused or neglected child as defined by the statute; and either the investigation indicates the existence of any of the absolute conditions; or substantiation is warranted based on consideration of the aggravating and mitigating factors.

“New Jersey requires all daycare employees to submit to a child abuse record check,” Senator Bucco added. “How many of the 130,000 public school employees in this state are falling through the cracks because they are not held to the same justifiable standard? It’s time to close this loophole and ensure we have every protection in place to prevent child abuse at all public schools in this state.”