FOIA Request Shows Schapiro Forced To Resign
Documents allege "fraud," "conspiracy" by previous library board.
Former Library Director Ben Schapiro was forced to resign in July, according to documents obtained by Patch through a Freedom of Information Act request. The papers also shed light on the circumstances surrounding Schapiro’s resignation and allegations of “fraud” and “conspiracy” leveled against Schapiro and former board members by current library board members.
Patch obtained a copy of the separation agreement signed by Schapiro and current Board President Mark Albers. (Click on the PDF icon on the right to read the full document.) Patch also received a copy of the letter Albers sent to the Cook County State's Attorney's office asking the office to look into allegations of violations of the Open Meeting Act by the previous board. The office ruled last month that the board did indeed violate the act. The Morton Grove Library supplied the documents to Patch in response to the Freedom of Information Act request.
Schapiro pushed to resign, both parties agree to silence
Schapiro's separation agreement indicates he didn’t have much of a choice in the matter.
He apparently would have been fired if he hadn't stepped down.
He signed the document on July 21, “in lieu of the board’s involuntary termination of Schapiro’s employment,” according to the agreement.
The agreement stipulates the publishing of a press release, mutually agreed upon by all parties, announcing Schapiro’s resignation. However, the press release could not “discuss the terms of this settlement agreement or the fact that Schapiro accepted consideration for his resignation.” Schapiro received severance pay and benefits through the end of August, according to the document.
The separation agreement orders Schapiro and board members to not “make any negative or disparaging statements or comments about any of the circumstances or events that gave rise to this agreement.”
The agreement prohibits Schapiro from bringing legal claims of wrongful termination or breach of contract against the board or library.
He also waived the right to “recover any money in connection with any charge or investigation filed by himself or any other individual or by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or any other federal, state or local agency.”
Allegations of ‘Fraud, conspiracy and official misconduct”
Last week, Patch published an article about a State’s Attorney’s investigation into alleged misconduct by the previous library board. The office stated that 11 of 19 executive sessions the board held violated the Open Meeting Act. The case was referred to the office's public integrity unit to determine if the violations were intentional and thus criminal.
Information detailing these allegations is included in the documents Patch received this week.
Library Board Treasurer and Trustee Catherine Peters compiled a report for the State’s Attorney’s office indicating that the alleged erasing of executive session tapes and failure to keep minutes was “not due to ignorance of the law, but to intentional flaunting of it.”
Albers wrote in a letter to the State’s Attorney’s office that, “In reviewing the actions of the immediate past library board in executive sessions of October and November of 2010, we have uncovered evidence of what we believe could be fraud, conspiracy and official misconduct along with other lesser infractions of law.”
In its response, the State's Attorney's office makes no mention of the larger claims except to say that the case was being referred to the public integrity unit. It also recommended that the board receive Open Meeting Act training materials.
In an interview with Patch last week, former board member and secretary Dan Hoffman said there was no smoking gun to find in the former board's actions.
“I have no explanation for why the tapes weren't there,” Hoffman said, adding that he was under the impression that “all of our executive session meetings were taped. ... Whether [the recorder] records or not isn’t known until after the meeting is over."
Check back with Patch soon for a follow-up story about these allegations.
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