ENNIS - The Ennis school board has offered a two-year superintendent's contract to Doug Walsh, who has been accused of violating state rules by collecting retirement benefits while still working for the school district for the past decade.
Walsh did not indicate whether he would accept the contract, worth $105,000 a year including insurance, approved by the school board on a 4-1 vote Monday. He did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.
Walsh retired as Ennis superintendent in June 2001 and was immediately rehired by the school as a contract employee, serving as a one-third superintendent and two-thirds transportation supervisor. He also began drawing state retirement benefits.
The Montana Teachers Retirement System is seeking more than $572,000 from Walsh and $188,000 from the school district for retirement benefits that it says Walsh was not eligible to collect, and for money it says should have been paid into the retirement system while he continued to work.
The system alleged Walsh's retirement and subsequent rehiring were clearly meant to get around eligibility rules to receive a pension.
Monday's board hearing at which the contract was approved was tense, with people on both sides of the issue and two police officers standing guard.
New board member Lisa Frye voted against the contract.
"I'm trying to protect the district," she said, adding she wanted to speak with legal counsel before giving Walsh a new contract.
Other board members cited Walsh's experience and knowledge of the school district.