TRENTON, N.J. — The state Senate Education Committee on Monday approved legislation that would expand background check requirements to school bus drivers who don’t currently fall under the mandate.
Under current New Jersey law, it is optional for a nonpublic school to require its employees to undergo the criminal history record check. But the new bill, passed by the Education Committee in a 4-0 vote, would make the checks mandatory for those and other drivers.
Also covered under the bill would be school bus drivers who are employed by such agencies as the Department of Human Services, the Department of Children and Families, and the Department of Law and Public Safety.
Additionally, drivers for a school bus contractor holding a contract with one of those agencies or with a nonpublic school would fall under the background check mandate.
The check, conducted through the state Department of Education (DOE), includes input from the Division of State Police and the FBI. “Using information from both entities provides a comprehensive review that transcends state lines and jurisdictions,” the Education Committee said in a statement.
The bill also requires that the Motor Vehicle Commission and the DOE compare data files on a regular basis to ensure that any school bus driver disqualified by the DOE also has the “S” endorsement on his or her CDL revoked by the Motor Vehicle Commission.
“Comparing files will also assist in identifying school bus drivers who have had their special license [‘S’ endorsement] revoked or suspended but who are still employed as school bus drivers,” the Education Committee said. “The Motor Vehicle Commission will notify the Department of Education of these cases, and their employment will be terminated.”