COD officials to review AG opinion it violated state law
A College of DuPage official said Saturday that a state opinion casts a shadow over the school's contract with its embroiled president since it was done during a meeting that may have violated state law.
COD Chairwoman Katharine Hamilton said the Illinois attorney general's opinion, issued on Friday, found that COD's board of trustees violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act when it adopted the third extension to Robert Breuder's employment contract. The opinion said the school had failed to inform the public about the vote for the contract extension.
"The attorney deneral's opinion validates our worst concerns about COD in the Breuder era," Hamilton said in a news release.
Hamilton said she is instructing COD counsel to review all legal options created by this development and to present them at the board's meeting on Thursday.
"The attorneys will advise us if adoption of Dr. Breuder's contract extension amid an Open Meetings Act violation has any legal bearing on our relationship with Dr. Breuder today," Hamilton said. "It is a serious legal question for every District 502 taxpayer, and we look forward to our attorneys' analysis and authorities."
The Glen Ellyn-based community college has been embroiled in state and federal investigations involving Breuder, who became COD president in 2009. Breuder, now on paid leave, was set to be paid nearly three times his base salary when he retires March 31, 2016 -- an arrangement that has drawn the ire of lawmakers. He would get a $762,000-plus severance package. With a base salary of $292,739, other benefits bring Breuder's total compensation package to $495,092.
Matt Hartman, assistant attorney general in the Public Access Bureau of the Illinois attorney general's office, said in the opinion that the school board violated the state's open meetings act at its July 12, 2011, special meeting.
During that meeting, the board took final action to extend the president's contract without providing sufficient advance notice and while failing to publicly provide information concerning the extension before its approval.
"It is undisputed that the board took final action at the special meeting by voting to extend the president's contract for an additional year," Hartmann's opinion read.
Hamilton, a Breuder opponent who became board chair after the April election where her supporters were voted into office, said that while the Breuder era has ended, "its effects will be felt for many months -- or possibly even years -- to come. This attorney general letter is one of those effects," Hamilton said.