Urquhart to get $16K from S’ville

By Brenna Swift, The Union Democrat March 12, 2013 10:50 am

The Summerville Union High School District Board of Education has settled a claim against the district from former Principal Dave Urquhart by offering him two years’ worth of health benefits totaling $16,389. 

Urquhart resigned from Summerville High School and filed the legal claim in June, when Superintendent John Keiter said he couldn’t receive Summerville’s health benefits after he retires.

Urquhart, 59, is currently superintendent and principal at Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District.

To receive benefits from Summerville High on retirement, employees must have at least 10 years of experience there and be between the ages of 55 and 65. The district offers them up to five years’ worth of the benefits at $8,199 per year, or their cash equivalent. 

The policy is designed as a retirement incentive, according to Keiter. 

Summerville High employees are only eligible to receive the health benefits if they retire altogether within 120 days of leaving the school.

But at the time Urquhart filed his claim, that stipulation was absent from school board policy.

Instead of retiring at the end of his tenure at Summerville, Urquhart began working as superintendent and principal of Big Oak Flat-Groveland this summer. 

His tort claim asserted that he is still eligible for Summerville’s benefits — and that he spent most of his time at the school relying on the fact that he would receive them. 

Urquhart’s base salary at Summerville High in the 2011-12 school year was $122,544, plus other costs including a $10,110 contribution to his retirement through the California State Teachers Retirement System. 

Under the settlement approved by Summerville’s school board Feb. 26, the district will contribute $8,199 to his health benefits per year after he does retire. They will cease after two years or he turns 65, whichever happens first. 

Summerville High revised its school board policies on the retirement benefits in November, adding that employees aren’t eligible to receive them unless they retire within the designated time. 

Urquhart said he couldn’t comment on the settlement because its terms prohibit him from doing so. However, he said retirement health benefits aren’t currently included in his contract at Big Oak Flat-Groveland. 

Keiter declined to comment on the settlement with Urquhart because it was a “personnel issue.”

The Board of Education approved it by a 3-2 vote Feb. 26, with trustees Bret Taylor and Dennis Spisak voting against it. 

As part of the settlement, Summerville High and Urquhart agreed not to pursue future legal action against one another. 

The district also agreed not to “disparage Urquhart to his current employer, parents, students or members of the public” on any topic related to his employment at Summerville. 

At Big Oak Flat-Groveland, Urquhart makes $112,000 a year as a base salary, plus $9,210 a year in health benefits and monthly car and cell phone stipends.