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September 26, 2022

COD Board President Erin Birt fails to find authority of Censure…

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On August 31, 2014

COLLEGE OF DUPAGE (ECWd) –

What follows is the first part of a detailed look at the “censure” that took place during the August 21, 2014 College of DuPage Board of Trustees (COD-BoT) meeting.

Please keep in mind that the COD-BoT does not possess the authority of “censure” even though it is obvious their attorney thinks so, but that is just his inaccurate opinion.

Section 1. Censure. Pursuant to the Authority stated herein in Section 6…

So let’s look at Section 6 first to see how they believe they get their authority of censure…

The first “authority” they quote is the Illinois Public Community College Act… and under subsection (F) they quote the General Assembly’s mandate to indemnify and protect the board members, etc [110 ILCS 805/3-29]

Subsection (G) talks about “Other Powers Not Enumerated” [110 ILCS 805/3-30], but that is by no means carte blanc, giving far-reaching powers of whatever a board of trustees feels they want to do. It involves additional powers that do not conflict with the Act that may become required or proper for the college in furtherance of the Act.

Any additional powers must enhance the ability to use the powers given them by the Legislature – anything else is an abuse of power, is inconsistent with the Act, and unauthorized according to law.

Now that we know the Illinois Public Community College Act does not authorize a “censure”, let’s look at their second “authority” mentioned in Section 6:

On page 9 of the COD Board Policies document, the Preamble explains that the following policies provide guidance, and State or Federal Laws take precedence. According to various dictionaries, a “Guidance Document” simply give broad advise on procedure instead of precise requirements and standards (here), or “advise or information given”. Once again, and this is important, the COD Policies are a “guidance document” or they simply provide some “guidance”.

Subsection (A) lists the Values to use as guidance. Looks like Erin Birt forgot the sentence about “We affirm our role as a catalyst for promoting dialog and tolerance on issues supporting the common good…encourage meaningful discourse…a climate in which freedom of expression of defended and civility is affirmed”. There is definitely not much tolerance, and defending of freedom of expression involved in this “censure”.

Subsection (B) refers to Board Policy 5-20 that states “…no individual board member has the power to speak out or act in the name of the Board”. Mrs. Hamilton never spoke “in the name of the Board” so this section refers to something that did not happen and constitutes a lie on the part of Erin Birt.

Subsection (C) talks about the duties of the Chair – and it says nothing about censure or punishment upon a fellow board member.

Subsection (D) talks about issuing resolutions from time to time. The key thing about this Policy No. 5-155 is that any such resolution must follow applicable state law.  The censure resolution violates state law.

Subsections (E) and (F) state that the board will provide indemnification according to law. This is mandatory. No exceptions.

Subsection (G) Mentions the “Other Powers Not Enumerated” as stated in the Act. Remember: Any “other powers” must enhance the ability to use the powers given them by the Legislature – anything else is an abuse of power, is inconsistent with the Act, and unauthorized according to law.

The remaining part of Section 1 of the Censure Resolution is simply hog-wash, and designed to try and intimidate an elected trustee into keeping quiet and not talking to the public, not talking to the press, and following the line of the majority on the board instead of what her constituents elected her to do. Her constituents do not believe she did anything embarrassing or inappropriate. If you want to see embarrassing and inappropriate read the resolution of censure.

Nothing in the COD Board Policies authorized censure and nothing in state law authorizes censure. By passing this resolution, those that voted “yes” violated state law.

Section 2 of the Censure will follow in its own article within a couple days.

 

Sources:

The Illinois Community College Act

College of DuPage Board Policies

Resolution of Censure

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