Watchdogs sue COD board over Robert Breuder severance deal

  • College President Robert Breuder sits in on the College of DuPage board meeting Jan. 22 where the board approved a $762,000 severance package for him.

      College President Robert Breuder sits in on the College of DuPage board meeting Jan. 22 where the board approved a $762,000 severance package for him. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
Updated 1/27/2015 8:26 PM

A group of government watchdogs filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the College of DuPage's board of trustees that alleges it violated the Open Meetings Act last week when it approved a $762,000 buyout package for President Robert Breuder.

The college's board last Thursday voted 6-1 to approve the agreement, in which Breuder will be receiving nearly three times his base salary when he retires on March 31, 2016, about three years earlier than his existing contract's expiration date.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The plaintiffs listed on the lawsuit are For the Good of Illinois, Edgar County Watchdogs, For the Good of Illinois founder Adam Andrzejewski, and John Kraft and Kirk Allen of the Edgar County Watchdogs.

According to the lawsuit filed in DuPage County court, the college board approved the "controversial" severance package without "providing the required notice to the public, and without any meaningful opportunity for the public to participate in the meeting."

The lawsuit alleges the board did not release a copy of the proposed addendum to Breuder's contract that included the details of the retirement agreement before the meeting. It also states the board refused to give details about the agreement to members of the public at the Jan. 22 meeting.

"The board's actions were a slap in the face to the principles of open government and transparency that are embodied in the Open Meetings Act," the complaint states.

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The lawsuit alleges the college board violated the Open Meetings Act in one or more of the following ways: by not posting an agenda that "adequately" described the addendum to Breuder's contract, by holding the board meeting in an "inconvenient" place, and by refusing to let the public know what was up for discussion.

The plaintiffs are asking for the board to be restricted from taking any action to "implement or effectuate" the agreement until their lawsuit is adjudicated, for the action to approve the addendum to be deemed null and void, and for an order to be given mandating that any future board meetings to discuss this issue must occur in a room big enough to fit all community members who want to attend.

COD spokesman Joseph Moore said he was aware of the lawsuit Tuesday, but he could not comment since it is litigation.

The college's board has scheduled a special meeting for Wednesday to take a new vote on Breuder's retirement agreement. The college said earlier this week the meeting is being held "to clarify a procedural motion to approve" the agreement.

The watchdogs are also requesting that the judge require the board to hold specifically the Wednesday meeting in a place large enough to hold the anticipated amount of attendees. A judge will be presented with this request at the DuPage County courthouse Wednesday morning.

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