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Turner Measure Requiring Digital Fingerprints Of All School Employees Through Committee

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would require all public school employees to undergo electronic fingerprinting was approved by the Senate Education Committee today.

“When it comes to protecting New Jersey’s students, we should seek out the latest technology to keep them safe,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer and Chair of the Committee. “Electronic fingerprinting allows the State to be more comprehensive in their background checks and better equipped to investigate arrests after an individual has been hired to work in a public school.”

The bill, S-1527, would require every employee of a board of education or contracted service provider who has not undergone a criminal history records check through the electronic fingerprinting process to do so within one year.

Senator Turner noted that current New Jersey law began requiring school districts in 1986 to perform a criminal history check prior to hiring new employees. However, employees hired before the effective date of the law were grandfathered in and therefore not required to obtain a criminal history check. Senator Turner also noted that from 1986 until 2003, applicants were manually fingerprinted for the criminal history check and after a prescribed time period, the records and the fingerprints were destroyed.

“Right now, we have a system that only flags employees with criminal records before they are hired by a school district. By having every employee electronically fingerprinted, law enforcement can alert school districts when their employees are arrested. Then local school districts can take the appropriate actions needed to maintain a safe learning environment,” explained Senator Turner.

According to Senator Turner, only those employees hired before the 2003 law requiring electronic fingerprinting would be required to be fingerprinted under this bill.

The bill passed by a vote of 5-0 and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.