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Kazan to be Sworn at Board Meeting Thursday

Trustee-elect had to be re-fingerprinted due to a problem processing the first set of prints.

Cathy Kazan / Patch file photo
Cathy Kazan / Patch file photo

Cathy Kazan, a trustee-elect to the Wayne Board of Education, will be sworn into a one-year term at the board’s meeting Thursday.

Kazan was elected in November to serve a one-year unexpired term. She was slated to be sworn in at the board’s reorganization meting Jan. 2.

Per a 2011 state law, newly-elected or –appointed board members must complete and pass a criminal background check and be fingerprinted. Anyone convicted of a crime that would prevent a person from working in a public school is also disqualified from serving on a school board.

Morpho Trust, the government contractor responsible for taking the fingerprints, did not process Kazan’s in time. Kazan was re-fingerprinted Tuesday. The Jan. 2 meeting was cancelled anyway due to the snowstorm.

“I’m happy it is finally going to happen and that I didn’t miss any time because of the weather, but I still have more questions than answers,” Kazan said. “It has been suggested that the state Department of Education may have overstepped a little bit but it’s not clear. I don’t think the law was interpreted correctly.”

The law states that newly-elected or –appointed board of education members must submit to a background check to ensure they have not been convicted of a “crime or offense.” The person’s fingerprints are shared with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New Jersey State Police.

Kazan was not the only elected member to report problems completing the process.

More than 150 board members reported “technical difficulties” that prevented them from completing the process, the state Department of Education (DOE) announced Tuesday. 

The DOE said people who have not yet completed the background check could be sworn in at their board’s reorganization meeting.

“The change makes sense, and it reflects NJSBA’s interpretation of the criminal background check law,” said Lawrence Feinsod, executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association. “Even though we greatly appreciate the Department of Education's change, NJSBA will seek legislation to have its interpretation of the law codified in statute.”

Kazan said she would work with local legislators to change and clarify the law.

“I don’t mind the background check and fingerprinting but a duly-elected official should never be kept from taking office for any reason,” Kazan said. “Elected officials at the municipal, county, or state levels don’t have to be fingerprinted or go through a background check. If this is about contact with children, I think they’d better rethink this.”

The meeting will be held at the district’s administrative office at 50 Nellis Drive beginning at 7 p.m. It will be streamed live online. Trustees Mitchell Badiner, Alan Mordkoff, and Robert Ceberio will be sworn into new three-year terms.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Cathy Kazan January 09, 2014 at 09:47 AM
Thank you to all who reached out, made comments and calls to the DOE. I don't mean to sound dramatic, but I truly feel Democracy needs to be safeguarded. Good men and women died to protect our right to vote for our representatives and shining a light on this was important. I hope the NJSBA and the Legislature will make strides to correct this going forward. I will be following up on it.
Chicken Little January 09, 2014 at 10:18 AM
Good luck Ms. Kazan. And here's hoping that your term is without such further unnecessary drama.
mjm January 09, 2014 at 10:31 AM
Please don't subject us, the voting regular citizens of Wayne to any more conversation on this. Calling it a "travesty" was completely unnecessary. It's the school board of ed, not the Executive Branch of the United States.
joann ranalletti January 09, 2014 at 08:38 PM
mjm, It was/is a travesty. It appears you are not well informed about democracy and the democratic process which must take place at any level of government. Cathy Kazan's comment above tells a great deal about her character and integrity...democracy needs to be safeguarded and comments like yours are uncalled for.


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