Family wants MMSD to pay former principal’s benefits

Notice of claim: Benefits not paid because Dahmen didn't file letter of resignation
Family wants MMSD to pay former principal’s benefits
Bruce Dahmen

The estate of Bruce Dahmen submitted a notice of claim to the Madison Metropolitan School District for his retirement benefits, which the family is being denied according to the document.

Dahmen has been hailed a leader who changed the lives of many people. He passed away suddenly in February from a heart attack. Dahmen was the principal at Memorial High School since 2005, but worked at the school for 40 years.

According to the notice of claim, Dahmen planned on submitting his letter of resignation at the end of the 2013-2014 school year, but he was told by the superintendent that he would not be allowed to retire that year.

“Bruce wanted to retire, but he was somewhat jokingly asked not to by the superintendent, but I think she meant what she said,” said Mark Eisenberg, the Dahmen’s estate attorney. “She didn’t want him to retire because he was such a good administrator.”

MMSD spokesperson Rachel Strauch-Nelson said the district received the claim and is in the process of reviewing it.

“While we can’t comment on the details, I do want to note that as a general practice we would never prohibit an employee from retiring. That is any employee’s right and choice,” Strauch-Nelson said. “The district is reviewing the claim to determine the next steps to ensure the fairest outcome for the Dahmen family.”

MMSD is refusing to pay $47,000, which are the benefits associated with Dahmen’s retirement plan, because he did not file a letter of resignation, according to the notice of claim.

“They’re just trying to follow their procedures, although, in this case, we don’t believe that their procedures are really fair as it applies to everybody,” Eisenberg said.

The $47,000 the family is asking for is part of a retirement plan, in addition to a regular pension plan, that MMSD offers to administrators that stay in position long term.

“This isn’t about the money, this is more about the principle thing,” Eisenberg said. “Forty-seven thousand dollars isn’t going to make or break her (Dahmen’s surviving wife) or the family, but it’s just the right thing to do.”