TRENTON – An Assembly committee on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) and Annette Quijano (D-Union) to authorize law enforcement agencies to inform public and independent institutions of higher education when a student is charged or convicted of certain criminal offenses.
“Higher education institutions have standards that students must adhere to. If a student has been charged or convicted of a serious crime, they have failed to meet those standards. If they pose a threat to students and staff, the proper authorities at the university deserve to know,” said Gusciora.
“Colleges and universities are places of learning. Students and staff members should not have to worry about individuals with criminal backgrounds who may prove disruptive or worse,” said Quijano. “The offenses covered under this bill are serious enough to warrant notification.”
The bill (A-3173) provides that at the time of a criminal charge or conviction of any student enrolled in a public or independent institution of higher education in the state, the law enforcement or prosecuting agency may provide written notice to the president of the institution of the student’s identity, the offense charged and the conviction, if the offense constitutes a crime and the offense:
- resulted in death or serious bodily injury or involved an attempt or conspiracy to cause death or serious bodily injury;
- involved the unlawful use or possession of a firearm or other weapon;
- involved the unlawful manufacture, distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog;
- was committed with a purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity;
- is a crime or offense set forth in chapter 14 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes; or
- is a crime of the first, second, or third degree.
The bill also clarifies that a law enforcement or prosecuting agency is not prohibited from providing the president of an institution with information identifying one or more students who are under investigation or have been taken into custody for commission of any act that would constitute an offense, if the information may be useful to the president in maintaining order, safety or discipline in the institution. The bill provides that any information provided to the president will be maintained by the institution and may be made available to such members of the staff and faculty of the institution as the president deems appropriate for maintaining order, safety, or discipline in the institution.
The measure was released by the Assembly Higher Education Committee; and it now goes to the desk of the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.
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