On November 11, 2015, the Southern Regional Board of Education (Ocean County) agreed to pay $30,000 to a now 73 year old part time school bus driver who claimed that school district officials discriminated against him because of his age.

In his suit, Thomas E. Pancoast said that his bid for a full-time driver position was rejected even though “he was the most senior applicant from the part time pool without any motor vehicle or other incidents on their record.”  He claimed that the full time positions were given to younger drivers with less seniority.  He said that his complaints to the superintendent and business administrator were ignored.

The case is captioned Pancoast v. Southern Regional Board of Education et al, Ocean County Superior Court Docket No. OCN-L-1136-14 and Pancoast’s attorney was John P. Brennan, Jr. of Avon-by-the-Sea.  The case documents are on-line here.

None of Pancoast’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $30,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Southern Regional or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Southern Regional or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Pancoast $30,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants’ decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial–it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]