College of DuPage meeting again goes on with no quorum

  • The College of DuPage board: top row from left, Deanne Mazzochi, Charles Bernstein, Frank Napolitano; bottom row, Dianne McGuire, Erin Birt, Joseph Wozniak

    The College of DuPage board: top row from left, Deanne Mazzochi, Charles Bernstein, Frank Napolitano; bottom row, Dianne McGuire, Erin Birt, Joseph Wozniak

 
 
Updated 1/21/2016 10:18 PM

Three College of DuPage trustees continued their boycott of board meetings by not showing up Thursday and appear unlikely to attend another session until a seventh board member is named.

Erin Birt, Dianne McGuire and Joseph Wozniak once again were no-shows, leaving the board without the necessary quorum to take action on a list of topics, including items appearing on the consent agenda that normally are approved without discussion.

 

The boycott started Dec. 17 when the three refused to attend the first meeting scheduled after Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton unexpectedly stepped down on Dec. 13. Hamilton's resignation for unspecified personal reasons left a 3-3 split on what already had been a deeply divided seven-member panel.

Unlike other meetings they skipped, Birt, McGuire and Wozniak didn't wait until the last minute to announce their decision to skip Thursday's meeting. They made it clear for two weeks they wouldn't be coming.

Still, board Vice Chairwoman Deanne Mazzochi said she decided to push ahead with the regular board meeting in the hope one of the missing trustees would attend.

That didn't happen, leaving Mazzochi and trustees Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein once again with no official business to conduct.

Not having a quorum Thursday led to Mazzochi having a tense exchange with COD's acting interim president, Joseph Collins, who reminded her that "the board is not present."

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Mazzochi asked Collins what steps the college should take to address concerns raised by the Higher Learning Commission, which has placed the college on two years' probation for its accreditation.

"My understanding is the president of the college receives direction from the board, not individual trustees," Collins responded.

The commission placed the college on probation in part because of administrative issues and the inability of trustees to get along.

"Three trustees are discussing the plan for the college to address the HLC's concerns," Collins said. "It seems to me it would be more appropriate if the entire board were here to provide that direction to me as the president. So I have to admit, I'm just confused."

Mazzochi moved ahead with the discussion anyway.

"We trustees are here to do business tonight," she said. "We are not permitted, because we don't have a quorum, to take final action. There is absolutely nothing preventing these board members from doing work that they believe they need to do."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As for the three boycotting trustees, they now have missed six meetings during the past month over four meeting nights -- including two sessions they scheduled themselves.

The DuPage state's attorney's office is investigating whether the three can be compelled to attend meetings, but a spokesman said no decision has been reached.

The last time the full board met was two months ago, on Nov. 19.

It now appears Birt, McGuire or Wozniak will not attend any meetings until after Lazaro Lopez, the chairman of the Community College Board, appoints someone to fill Hamilton's seat.

The full board has until Feb. 11 to fill the open seat on its own, but Birt and McGuire last week sent a letter to Lopez saying it "appears necessary" for him to appoint the seventh trustee.

ICCB officials said it would be the first time in memory any school board has failed to fill a seat on its own.

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