Breuder sues board for wrongful termination

Kelly Wynne, News Editor

Less than 24 hours after his official termination, Robert Breuder, former College of DuPage president, has filed a lawsuit against a portion of the board of trustees.

Breuder is suing the defendants, Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton, Board Secretary Frank  Napolitano, Board Vice Chairman Deanne Mazzochi and Trustee Charles Bernstein, for wrongful termination. He has requested a jury trial.

The lawsuit details harm to Breuder’s personal and professional reputation, stressing the personal vendetta behind the board’s 4-1 vote to fire him. It states “Breuder was deprived of his civil and constitutional rights when defendants wrongfully terminated his employment in violation of his contracts, without due process, and based on false charges of misconduct that were asserted by the individual defendants only to further their personal interests and political agendas.”

The lawsuit also lists a number of Breuder’s accomplishments at the college including COD’s enrollment growing by 10.3 percent on his watch. This was an increase of about 1,700 students from 2011 to 2014.

Hamilton’s political influence is a large talking point of the lawsuit, claiming that from the start of her board career in 2013, she has worked with the motive to fire Breuder and reform the school’s administration in order to seek higher office. The lawsuit states “That strategy has been focused on posturing defendant Hamilton as a “reformist” of the college and discrediting and slandering the former board and college administration, especially Dr. Breuder, through false claims of unprofessional and unethical conduct, mismanagement, and fraudulent and abusive spending practices.”

The defendants view Breuder’s dismissal from the college as a new chapter for the school. Each defended their vote to fire him at the special board meeting on Oct. 20 by supporting an eight-point list of his shortcomings.

Breuder’s poor public reputation has come from months of media scrutiny. Much of this included financial mishandling at the college, particularly that of the now-closed Waterleaf restaurant. Clean state trustees credit Breuder with tarnishing the college’s reputation both financially and academically.
The defendants issued a statement hours after the lawsuit was delivered, holding no regrets. “The College of DuPage Board of Trustees stands by its action to terminate the employment of Dr. Breuder. It denies the baseless allegations in his lawsuit. The Board will vigorously defend this case in court.”