TRENTON - A Kane In Your Corner investigation is getting results for a veteran high school coach from Metuchen and his counterparts across the state, as New Jersey lawmakers moved to close a quirk in new pension rules that was exposed in a report on News 12 New Jersey last month.
On the soccer fields of Metuchen High School, Ken Graf is a legend. Now 64, he's been coaching there for 42 seasons. Graf retires as a teacher at the end of this month, but hoped to stay on as soccer coach. As Kane In Your Corner reported, the state said pension rules would not allow that, regardless of whether he drew a minimal salary, or even volunteered to coach and drew no salary at all.
Graf was not the only coach in this situation. News 12 New Jersey has heard from veteran coaches all across the state who were being told the same thing. Some never drew a salary in all their years of coaching, and could not possibly understand how something they had done voluntarily for their entire careers could possibly violate pension rules.
Now, a month after the initial Kane In Your Corner report, some New Jersey lawmakers are coming to the aid of Graf and other coaches. The Assembly Education Committee unanimously passed a bill that would allow retired teachers to stay on as coaches, as long as they earn less than $10,000 per year.
"This bill adjusts what was an unintended consequence of the pension reform legislation," says the bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D - South Plainfield). "And the fact that it passed unanimously on both sides of the aisle with the support of all members really shows that it has universal support."
Graf, in Trenton for the hearing, told committee members he appreciates how they and others have rallied around him. "It shows that government does work," Graf said. "Thanks an awful lot."