Credit: Sussex County Courthouse in Newton, New Jersey, by Calvin Beale / Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

On April 3, 2023, the Lenape Valley Regional High School District Board of Education (Sussex County, NJ) agreed to pay $100,000 to a former superintendent who claimed that his contract was terminated because he was 64 years old.

In his lawsuit, Paul DiRupo, who served the District for 32 years, claimed that Board President Richard Kuncken “stated essentially” in December 2020 that the Board was “going younger” and decided to not renew DiRupo’s contract and replace him with a younger person. He also claimed that even though he was afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis, he “discharged his duties . . . in exemplary fashion for many years.” DiRupo claimed that Kuncken “continually harassed and treated [him] in a disparate and harassing fashion due not only to his age, but also because of his MS condition.”

According to DataUniverse, DiRupo retired in July 2021 and is receiving a $9,088.21 monthly allowance from the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund based on a final annual salary of $177,725.

The case is captioned DiRupo v. Lenape Valley Regional Board of Education, Docket No. SSX-L-95-21 and DiRupo’s attorney was Glenn A. Montgomery of Bridgewater. The lawsuit and settlement agreement are on-line here.

The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause under which DiRupo agreed that the settlement and its terms and amounts be kept confidential. Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public’s right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.

None of DiRupo’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. Settlement agreements typically state that payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by any of the defendants. All that is known for sure is that the Lenape Valley Regional school board or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay DiRupo $100,000 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]