COD's Breuder cited illness as reason for leave request

Embattled College of DuPage President Robert Breuder sought to go on medical leave for a "serious" illness more than a week before a new majority on the board of trustees voted to put him on paid administrative leave, according to documents released by the school.

Amid state and federal investigations of the Glen Ellyn-based community college, Breuder was placed on administrative leave by the board on April 30, the same day three newly elected trustees were seated on the seven-member board.

The college had announced Breuder's medical leave two days earlier but initially wouldn't disclose when and why Breuder requested the medical leave or how long the leave would last.

But documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show Breuder notified COD's human resources department on April 22 that he was taking medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The reason listed was Breuder's own "serious health condition."

The leave began on April 29 and was scheduled to end July 22.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees are entitled up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for reasons that could include "a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job," according to a COD human resources document.

As a condition of his leave, Breuder was supposed to get a medical certification from a doctor by Thursday, May 7.

Breuder had 584 hours of sick time, 401.49 hours of vacation time and eight hours of personal time, amounting to nearly half a year of 40-hour weeks, a human resources official informed Breuder in an April 27 letter.

Breuder was told that medical leave would draw down his sick time first, then his vacation time. However, it's unclear whether any of that time off is used during the administrative leave.

Breuder notified former board Chairwoman Erin Birt about his medical leave in an April 28 letter.

In the letter, he told Birt that he's "always available for conversation" if she has time. He added that it has been a pleasure working closely with her.

"Your dedication, perseverance, sacrifice and leadership have helped sustain our college during what will one day be seen as the most challenging period in our history," Breuder wrote to Birt. "Time will eventually tell the real story; the truth can never be suppressed."

For months, COD has been under intense scrutiny about spending decisions made by the administration. The controversy intensified in January when members of the prior board approved a $762,868 buyout package for Breuder, who is scheduled to retire next March.

Despite the medical leave, Breuder was placed on paid administrative leave. Board members said administrative leave is common when there's an investigation. In addition to the state and federal probes, the board hired a law firm to conduct its own internal investigation of the school.

As part of his administrative leave, Breuder had to surrender "all keys, telephones, computers and other equipment or devices" the college provided to him. He needs written authorization from new board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton to be on campus or to attend college events.

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