George Crouch

The Atlantic City Board of Education was notified by the state Sept. 6 that George Crouch was no longer permitted to serve on the board as a result of his criminal background check.

Edward Lea

ATLANTIC CITY - George Crouch is no longer a member of the Atlantic City Board of Education.

Atlantic City schools Superintendent Fredrick Nickles said the district was notified by the state Sept. 6 that Crouch was no longer permitted to serve on the board as a result of his criminal background check.

A new state law prohibits residents with criminal records from serving on a local school board. Board members began the criminal background checks, which typically take 30 days, in July.

Crouch knew he was no longer eligible because of a drug-related crime in 1992. He said in June that voters knew his past when they voted for him and he would remain on the board until he was told otherwise.

Nickles said Crouch was told about the letter at a special board meeting Sept. 6, and Crouch left the meeting. His name was not included in the agenda for the Sept. 12 meeting and his name and photo have been removed from the district website link for the Board of Education.

Board President Shay Steele said he would like to see the law amended so that people such as Crouch, who have turned their lives around and become active in their communities, could still serve.

"He was committed to the job and people voted for him," Steele said. "It leaves a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths."

Crouch had the second-highest vote tally among six candidates in the 2010 election, receiving 995 votes.

Board members serve for three years. The school district solicitor is now investigating how to replace Crouch. The new law does not include a specific process. Under state law regarding school board vacancies, when a board member resigns, the board names a replacement. But when a board member is removed because of a lack of qualifications, the county superintendent fills the seat.

"We're waiting to see what the rules say," Steele said. "We want to do it right."

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