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College of DuPage trustees are set to vote on a $4 million settlement

DuPage Board of Trustees trustees are scheduled to vote Thursday on a $4 million settlement for the former president, who left under a cloud of controversy.

The settlement ended a yearlong legal battle between Robert Brader and the community college board. The school’s insurance company will pay the former administrator more than four times his original severance pay as part of the deal.

Trustees are expected to approve the settlement at a special meeting Thursday, at which the settlement will be the only item on the agenda.

The College Board voided Brader’s contract in September 2015 on the theory that his first extension was approved in April 2009 — four months after it began — by a “lame duck” board that knew it was handcuffing new trustees with a long-term contract. The trustees insisted that boards in Illinois cannot legally bind future boards of directors to long-term employment agreements and relied on 19th-century case law.

Without a valid contract, the majority of trustees said they were no longer obligated to pay Brader the $763,000 severance the previous board had promised in exchange for his March 2016 retirement, three years early.

Breuder’s initial buyout caused a deep public outcry, and the state passed laws imposing limits on severance packages and requiring increased transparency of such deals.

A federal judge, however, rejected the legal argument the board used to reverse Brader’s buyout, making it more difficult for the college to defend its actions.

In firing Brader in 2015, the board listed eight reasons for the decision, including excessive spending, poor financial oversight and a failure to respond to requests made under state open records laws. The school’s accrediting agency later placed the school on probation.

The day after the trustees voided his firing, Brader filed a wrongful termination lawsuit, alleging breach of contract, defamation and violation of Brader’s due process rights.

He also named the trustees who voted for his dismissal as defendants in the lawsuit. A proposed settlement released by the college indicates that claims and counterclaims between Brader and former board chair Dina Mazzocchi, who is now a state representative, are not included in the settlement.

Attorneys for Brader, the college and Mazocchi could not be reached for comment.


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