William H. Hyde, former superintendent of Carroll County public schools, returned from Montana and spent 2 1/2 hours yesterday testifying before a special grand jury about possible illegalities stemming from school construction projects during his tenure.
Appearing harried, but dapper in a navy blue suit, Hyde dashed from the grand jury room about 3:30 p.m., saying he had no time to comment about his testimony.
"I have a medical appointment in five minutes," he said without slowing to answer questions. He looked over his shoulder and said he would be returning to Montana today.
Hyde's announcement in July that he would retire as chief of the county public school system surprised the county school board and other county officials.
Hyde, whose last day at work was to have been Sept. 1, left to begin work Aug. 21 in Seeley Lake, Mont., as superintendent of a school system with 240 students for about half the $119,000 annual salary he earned in Carroll.
Jerry F. Barnes, state's attorney for Carroll County, said he could not comment on the grand jury proceedings. "I am hopeful that the special grand jury report will be completed soon," Barnes said, declining to elaborate. Before a grand jury report can be published, it must be reviewed by the court, Barnes said.
Hyde, 59, served as superintendent of Carroll's 27,000-student system for two years.
During that time, the school system was entangled in a contract dispute with the original builder of Cranberry Station Elementary School in Westminster and settled a lawsuit with a family whose driveway had been paved over by the school system without the family's permission.
The school system also remains mired in a lawsuit stemming from the illegal construction of an $800,000 sewage treatment plant at Francis Scott Key High School in Union Bridge.
The grand jury began looking into school system construction in May 1999. The investigation was expanded in March with the release of a 100-page report documenting "consistent failures" in the handling of school construction projects.
As a final payout, Hyde received $89,146 in salary and unused sick leave and vacation pay.
Charles I. Ecker, former two-term county executive in Howard County, was named interim superintendent of Carroll schools Sept. 1, after filling in for Hyde on an emergency basis when it was discovered that Hyde would be employed in Montana beginning Aug. 21.