GRENORA, N.D. - The superintendent of Grenora Public School District No. 99 has submitted his resignation, and as part of an agreement with the school board, the district has agreed to not file any complaints against him, not seek any further restitution and not pursue criminal charges.
Troy Walters, who admits no wrongdoing in the agreement, will go on paid leave on May 18 and will officially resign when he contract ends June 30. The agreement, signed by Walters and school board President Lavern Johnson on Wednesday, May 1, came a month after the board first met to consider firing Walters allegations of misconduct, including questionable expense reports and treatment of staff.
An attorney hired by the district near the Montana border concluded that Walters had spent district money on himself, used district vehicles for personal purposes and intimidated school employees so they wouldn’t participate in the investigation. Walters, through his attorney, has denied all the accusations and accused the attorney, Meredith Vukelic, of bias.
At a special meeting of the district school board Tuesday, April 30, board members voted unanimously to accept a separation agreement for Walters. The agreement was submitted to the district by Thomas Kelsch, Walters’ attorney.
The board did not discuss the details of the separation agreement in public session on Tuesday evening. The members spent more than an hour in executive session discussing the matter with attorney Amy Clark, the attorney representing the school district.
The school's graduation ceremony is May 17, and the agreement gives Walters until noon the next day to turn in school property.
As part of the agreement, the district is barred from filing complaints against Walters with any state agencies. In her report, Vukelic had recommended notifying the state’s Education Standards and Practices Board. In the agreement, the district also agrees to withdraw a claim filed with the North Dakota State Bonding Fund.
The bonding fund covers political entities like cities and school districts for theft by public employees. Ashley Kelsch, public information officer for the North Dakota Insurance Department, said the claim by the Grenora Public School District is under investigation, and so no information about it could be released.
The district also agrees not to seek restitution from Walters beyond the $2,830 he’s already repaid. In both the agreement and in a rebuttal to the investigation report prepared by Walters and his attorney, Walters denies any purchases he made were inappropriate.
“Once the report came out, I didn’t want my reputation damaged by these allegations of wrongdoing, and I didn’t want anyone to be able to even argue that I took advantage of my position as superintendent of Grenora,” Walters wrote in the rebuttal. “While I deny that these expenditures were illegal or improper, to clear my name, I went back and counted up all of the school payments for alleged personal use and have paid all of those monies back to the school district.”
In her report, Vukelic wrote that the district should refer the question of misuse of district money to law enforcement.
“It is my opinion that the patrons of the school district deserve to have this reviewed further since my investigation was not a criminal one and because time constraints did not allow me to investigate all areas of concern,” she wrote.
In the agreement, though, the district agreed to not pursue any criminal charges and to request any investigation be discontinued. The agreement directs the district to send a letter to law enforcement and sets out the language to be used.
Another part of the agreement calls for both sides to issue a joint press release saying the discharge for cause proceedings had been dismissed and that Walters would be on paid administrative leave from May 18 through the end of his contract.
Walters will be allowed to continue living in the house owned by the district through the end of his contract, as well.