College of DuPage trustee: Fellow trustee wants Breuder back
College of DuPage Trustee Frank Napolitano says he was asked for his vote by rival Dianne McGuire so she could become board chairwoman and overturn the firings of former President Robert Breuder and two administrators.
McGuire has not returned phone calls or email messages this week, but one trustee aligned with her says it's simply "not true" that McGuire wants to bring back Breuder, who was fired in the fall.
Napolitano's comments came Thursday night during a board meeting that McGuire, Erin Birt and Joseph Wozniak refused to attend.
The trio has been boycotting meetings since board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton unexpectedly stepped down in December, citing unspecified personal reasons, leaving the panel in a 3-3 deadlock. One of the reasons the three cited for their boycott was a desire to have an organizational meeting to select a new chairman.
Napolitano said he had his discussion with McGuire on Dec. 16 -- three days after Hamilton resigned and one day before the meeting boycott started.
According to Napolitano, McGuire solicited his support for her bid to become chairwoman.
"Trustee McGuire also said she would overrule the prior board and its findings, and to overturn the voiding of Dr. Breuder's contract," Napolitano went on to say.
Breuder, who was set to receive a $762,868 severance package this March, instead was put on administrative leave last April by the board after Napolitano and two of his political allies -- Deanne Mazzochi and Charles Bernstein -- were elected to the panel.
After conducting an internal investigation, the new board fired Breuder in October, which led him to file a federal wrongful termination lawsuit against Napolitano, Mazzochi, Bernstein and Hamilton. Breuder is seeking more than $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Napolitano said McGuire wants to undo Breuder's termination.
"She said she might put Dr. Breuder back on administrative leave or on campus," Napolitano said. "But she thought reinstating Dr. Breuder was the right thing to do and that he deserved the $763,000, and it would likely end his lawsuit."
"That is not true," Birt said when asked if she, McGuire or Wozniak are pushing to reinstate Breuder.
Attempts to reach Breuder on Friday were unsuccessful.
Napolitano said McGuire also told him she wants to bring back two other high-ranking administrators, Thomas Glaser and Lynn Sapyta, who were fired this fall. They, too have filed wrongful termination suits.
"Again, she said this was the right thing to do," Napolitano said.
McGuire has said she wants the board to revisit the employment of three law firms that billed the college for more than $2.4 million between May and December.
But with the gridlock on the board, it appears unlikely there are enough votes to part ways with the firms of Rathje & Woodward, Schiff Hardin and Schuyler, Roche & Crisham.
That's something McGuire wants to undo as well, according to Napolitano.
"Trustee McGuire said she would fire our three law firms," he said, "and bring back the very attorneys who in my opinion, enabled or participated in the prior board's actions that have come under so much scrutiny."