- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

GLEN ELLYN, Ill. (AP) - The College of DuPage’s new board chairwoman plans to enact sweeping reforms at the troubled suburban Chicago school amid a federal investigation and criticism of its spending, she told a local newspaper.

Kathy Hamilton hopes the board will work to fix problems that raised red flags, so the school can continue to focus on education, she recently told the Daily Herald.

“We have problems,” Hamilton said. “We’re going to evaluate them. We’re going to fix them. And we’re going to move on.”

Various policy changes will be instituted, Hamilton said, including limiting how much money trustees can be reimbursed for certain expenses, increasing the number of board meetings until most of the needed reforms are in place and creating board committees to assign responsibilities based on expertise in certain areas.

She also said the board will enact several methods to keep school officials in check, such as a forming a transition team and to examine the operation and governance of the community college.

The school has faced criticism over a $763,000 severance package to end school president Robert Breuder’s contract next March, three years early. He is on administrative leave and subpoenas were served to administrators at the school earlier this month, seeking documents including Breuder’s employment agreements, emails and college-issued credit cards.

The college also is being investigated by DuPage County prosecutors and state education officials.

The school also spent about $260,000 to send more than 370,000 households promotional mailers with positive messages about the school earlier this spring, according to documents that the Daily Herald and the Chicago Tribune obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests. The fliers were used for “electioneering” purposes, Hamilton argued, because some of them arrived at DuPage County homes and parts of Will and Cook counties just three days before the April 7 election for college trustees.

“You’re not supposed to use public funds to persuade people politically, and three days before an election is definitely in the persuading area,” Hamilton said.

Breuder sent the mailers, which were paid for with discretionary funds, the documents show.

School spokesman Randall Samborn denied that the mailers were meant to publicize the college prior to the election. Instead, they were meant to promote positive news about College of DuPage, he said.

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