The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

June 16, 2013

Lawsuit cost district $70,000

Bus driver wrongly fired

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

JAMESTOWN — Jamestown Area School District and its insurer paid $70,000 to settle a lawsuit that a bus driver was wrongly fired because of an old drug conviction.

The settlement contract, a copy of which was obtained this week by The Herald through a Right-to-Know request, states that Terri L. McCloskey of West Salem Township was paid $42,000, and her attorneys received $28,000.

Jamestown paid $5,000 –  its deductible, said Superintendent Shane Murray.

The contract states that Jamestown does not admit any liability or wrongdoing, and called the settlement “purely an act of compromise.”

McCloskey sued May 24, 2012, charging Jamestown and Murray with civil rights violations. A law passed in 2011 banned anyone with a drug conviction from working in public schools.

McCloskey pleaded guilty in 1985 to a charge of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. She drove a school bus with Frye Inc., Greenville, for about eight years until early 2012, when she was fired based on the new law.

“The district followed the law as it was directed to by the Pennsylvania Department of Education,” Murray said.

Act 24 of 2011 expanded the use of background checks and the number of crimes that made people ineligible for public school employment.

The department sent out a directive that superintendents who do not enforce the expanded law would face fines, Murray said.

“Mrs. McCloskey is a victim of that legislation,” he said. “We held no ill feelings toward Mrs. McCloskey. We were just following the law.”

State Commonwealth Court in December deemed the lifetime ban provisions to violate the state constitution.