School board denies benefits to Carroll's ex-superintendent

Late notification of departure was breach of contract

September 02, 2000|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

Backing off from earlier statements about William H. Hyde's retirement payout, the Carroll County Board of Education said yesterday it will not pay for life and health insurance costs for the former superintendent, who unexpectedly quit to take a job in northwest Montana.

Initially, the county was going to pay premiums on a $237,930 life insurance policy for Hyde until age 70 in addition to paying for his health insurance indefinitely. That is no longer the case.

Hyde, 59, will receive $89,146 in salary and unused sick leave and vacation pay from a contract that paid him $118,965 a year. He left the job with two years to go on the contract.

Hyde now oversees a school system of 240 students in Seeley Lake, Mont.

The lump sum payout - which will be taxed - includes $3,012 in salary for Hyde's final pay period, through Aug. 31; $162 for his final vehicle stipend; $71,255 for 143 unused sick days; and $14,871 for 30 days of unused vacation.

About $154 was subtracted from the total to cover Hyde's contribution to minority recruitment and multicultural education programs.

Hyde's July announcement that he would leave Carroll schools on Sept. 1 fell nine weeks short of the four-month notice required by his contract.

Although school board President C. Scott Stone initially said that the breach of contract would not affect Hyde's payout package - including health and life insurance policies - he later reversed that assessment.

Hyde's contract would be "strictly interpreted," said Stone last week.

According to the strict reading of the contract, Hyde forfeited any unaccrued benefits when he quit.

"The payout was based on the terms of the superintendent's contract," said school board member Susan W. Krebs. "He was paid in accordance with the policies that apply to all employees of Carroll County public schools. We paid him what we had to pay him. It was not anything extra."

Earlier criticism

When school board members negotiated Hyde's contract in 1998, they were careful to include provisions limiting retirement compensation. The board faced severe criticism in 1994 when superintendent R. Edward Shilling retired with a lump-sum payment of about $95,000 in accumulated sick leave and unpaid vacation.

Hyde's contract allowed for him to be reimbursed for a maximum of 50 unused vacation days and 250 sick days.

Hyde left in mid-August to start the job in Seeley Lake. The resort town has fewer residents than Carroll schools has employees.

Investigation ends

Attorneys for the school board had been looking into whether Hyde breached his employment contract by beginning the Montana job before his Carroll contract expired. That investigation ended with the payout.

Officials also demanded this week that Hyde promptly return school equipment that he took to Montana - a laptop computer, handheld computer, cellular telephone, office key, credit card and identification badge issued during his tenure.

Hyde had told the school system that he would return the items when he travels to Maryland later this month to testify before the grand jury that is investigating possible mismanagement of the school system during his tenure.

Hyde has not returned repeated phone calls since his departure. Reached this week at his Montana office, he refused to comment.

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