College of DuPage trustees are due to vote Thursday on a $ 4 million settlement in favor of the former president who has passed away in an atmosphere of controversy.

The deal ended a year-long legal battle between Robert Breuder and the municipal council. The school’s insurance carrier will pay the former administrator more than four times its original severance package under the contract.

The trustees are expected to approve the settlement at a special meeting on Thursday, where the agreement is the only item on the agenda.

The college council announced that the Breuder Agreement was invalid in September 2015 based on the theory that its first extension was approved in April 2009 – four months after it had started – by a committee that knew it was handing over incoming trustees long-term contract. The trustees insisted that Illinois boards cannot legally bind future boards to long employment contracts, and based this argument on 19th-century jurisprudence.

Without a valid contract, most of the trustees said they were no longer required to grant Breuder the $ 763,000 severance package that previous management had promised in return for retirement in March 2016, three years earlier.

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The original buyout of Breuder sparked deep public outrage, and the state passed legislation restricting severance pay and requiring increased transparency for such transactions.

A federal judge, however, rejected the legal argument that the board used to back out of the Breuder buyout, making it difficult for the university to defend its actions.

When he dismissed Breuder in 2015, the council listed eight reasons for the decision, including over-spending, poor financial supervision, and non-response to requests made under the state’s open records laws. The school’s accreditation agency later put the school on probation.

Breuder filed a lawsuit for unlawful termination the day after the trustees canceled his severance pay, alleging breach of contract, defamation and breach of procedural rights.

He also named the trustees who voted for his termination as defendants in the lawsuit. The proposed college settlement shows claims and counterclaims between Breuder and former chairman of the board, Deanne Mazzochi, who is now a state representative, was not included in the settlement.

Breuder’s attorneys, the college, and Mazzochi were unable to get comment right away.

sstclair@chicagotribune.com

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