🏫 NJ passed a law to stop schools from helping perverted teachers find work

🏫 A new report suggests the law is easy to circumvent

🏫 Both educators and school districts are ignoring the law, the report says

A New Jersey law designed to keep perverted teachers from landing jobs in other districts is insufficient and easily manipulated, according to a report from a state government agency.

In its report released on Tuesday, the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation says that both educators and school districts have been ignoring the state's "Pass the Trash" law that was enacted in 2018, meaning teachers who've been let go from one district for inappropriate behavior are easily finding another place to teach children within the state.

NJ's "Pass the Trash" law

New Jersey's law sought to end a long-standing approach by schools toward handling cases involving inappropriate employee conduct: just sweep it under the rug.

For years, teachers and other school employees who engaged in sexual conduct with students, or who'd been accused of the criminal act, would be able to move to another district by entering into confidential settlements with their employers.

The state's law, enacted in April 2018, aimed to stop this practice by:

⚫ Requiring school job applicants to provide statements indicating whether they've been the subject of any child abuse or sexual misconduct investigation by any employer or agency

⚫ Requiring school job applicants to provide a rundown of their previous employers, and their contact info, from the past two decades

⚫ Requiring the employer to conduct its own review by contacting former employers

⚫ Prohibiting schools from entering a contract with a worker that attempts to suppress information related to allegations of child abuse or sexual misconduct

⚫ Requiring districts to disclose relevant information within 20 days of a request being made by a district looking to hire a former employee

These provisions are in addition to a criminal history check that all New Jersey school employees must undergo.

SEE MORE: Teaching certification revoked for man who broke into home

Pass the Trash is being manipulated

SCI launched an investigation into the law's implementation after receiving allegations that Pass the Trash was being circumvented.

SCI's 24-page report details a number of instances that support those allegations, and unsavory school workers were able to find jobs in other districts because of exploited loopholes, the report says.

In a couple cases, wannabe teachers who had been let go from one district for inappropriate conduct simply lied on Pass the Trash forms, indicating that they had never been the subject of such an investigation.

The report also uncovered purposeful circumvention of the law by school districts. According to SCI, a Bergen County unknowingly hired a teacher with a checkered past in March 2022, because his former school employer in Warren County agreed to a confidential settlement regarding inappropriate conduct toward students — the very settlement New Jersey's Pass the Trash law prohibited.

According to SCI, the state's law relies too heavily on educators with histories of inappropriate conduct to fully disclose their past misdeeds to new employers.

Recommendations to address Pass the Trash manipulation

SCI argues a major issue is the fact that there is no state agency charged with oversight of how the law is enforced.

Instead, each of New Jersey's districts — there are nearly 600 of them — have to develop their own method for collecting, reporting and verifying information related to the law.

As part of its recommendations, SCI wants to eventually see the state Department of Education oversee, audit, and enforce the law's provisions.

To avoid other loopholes in the law, SCI also calls for the creation of a statewide database that tracks all school employees who have histories of abuse or sexual misconduct with students.

"To meet the overarching goal of keeping New Jersey school children safe, the Commission recommends that legislators and policymakers re-examine how best to investigate and manage situations involving sexually inappropriate or abusive conduct by school employees," the report says.

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NJ teachers and educators caught in sex crime busts

Over the past several years, state lawmakers have dealt with accused child predators among ranks of teachers and educators.

The following individuals were arrested and charged in 2021 and several years earlier. Some were convicted and sentenced to prison. Others have accepted plea deals for probation and some cases were still pending.

Gallery Credit: Erin Vogt

Top 30 schools most violent schools in New Jersey

These are the schools in New Jersey with the highest rates of violence. The rankings are based on the annual School Performance Reports for the 2021-22 school year. New Jersey 101.5 ranked the schools based on the rate of reported violent incidents per 100 students. Schools with enrolment less than 100 are excluded.

Gallery Credit: New Jersey 101.5

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