The problem is, the Catholic Church and Agudath Israel of America oppose them, Agudah claiming such mandatory checks violate the separation of church and state.
Agudah claims it wants these checks to be adopted voluntarily by religious schools. The problem?
Few schools in the Agudah orbit have done so.
Even Modern Orthodox schools fail to do proper background checks, as the NJ Jewish Standard reports:
…Dr. Wallace Greene, director of Jewish Educational Services at UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, called the [Melzer] affair "sad and unfortunate. This goes back to the Baruch Lanner case," he said. "At the time there were calls for stricter background checks, but I don’t know if any formal policies were adopted. This is precisely why they’re needed."
Lanner, former of Hillel Yeshiva High School in Ocean, and director of regions for the Orthodox Union‘s National Conference of Synagogue Youth, was found guilty in 2002 of sexually abusing teenagers.
Greene noted that while he cannot cite similar cases of sexual abuse in this area, he does not know if individual religious schools do more than "review résumés and check references."
According to Gloria Montealegre, spokesperson for Gov. Jon Corzine, a New Jersey law passed in 1986 mandates "criminal history record checks for final candidates for school employee positions." While the law was amended in 2006 to authorize local school districts to require volunteers to undergo the background checks, "there is no statewide requirement that volunteers undergo the checks," said Montealegre.
She added that the law applies to public schools only, since "we do not have jurisdiction over private schools. They make their own decisions."
Charged with four counts of child endangerment, Melzer turned himself in to county authorities in Paramus last Friday. Held on $50,000 bail, he was scheduled to be arraigned in municipal court on Tuesday.