Tentative deal reached in COD lawsuit by fired administrators

A tentative settlement has been reached in a federal lawsuit filed by two fired College of DuPage administrators who say they were wrongfully terminated as payback for opposing the political agenda of the school board's former chairwoman.

Thomas Glaser and Lynn Sapyta sued the college, former COD board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton and former interim President Joseph Collins after they were fired in September 2015.

According to a court filing last week, parties involved in the case say there's been a settlement.

The deal is tentative and still hasn't been approved by everyone involved. The COD board, for example, hasn't voted on the agreement.

Details about the proposed settlement are being kept secret.

On Tuesday, attorneys for Glaser and Sapyta declined to comment. College officials said they can't comment on the lawsuit, which it still refers to as "pending." Attorneys for Collins and Hamilton didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Collins fired Glaser and Sapyta in September 2015 for what he said was a failure to protect the financial integrity of the Glen Ellyn-based school. Glaser served as senior vice president of administration and treasurer, and Sapyta was assistant vice president of financial affairs and controller.

But the administrators said in their lawsuit that their firings violated their constitutional rights of free speech and free association.

Glaser and Sapyta campaigned against three Hamilton-backed candidates - Deanne Mazzochi, Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein - during the 2015 COD board election. All three were elected.

Once Hamilton became chairwoman and gained control of the seven-member board, she used her position to create policy for COD, "including directing defendant Joseph Collins to unlawfully terminate" Glaser and Sapyta, according to the lawsuit.

At the time, the college responded by saying the lawsuit "makes false allegations." The school said the assertions by Glaser and Sapyta "are clearly contradicted by well-established facts."

Sapyta and Glaser were put on leave in June 2015 after an audit revealed the college lost roughly $2.2 million in the Illinois Metropolitan Investment Fund. But the lawsuit says Hamilton planned to fire Glaser and Sapyta before an internal investigation into their actions was completed.

The lawsuit sought various items of relief, including back wages and benefits lost, loss of earning capacity, compensatory damages in an amount to be determined and punitive damages in an amount to be determined.

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