Editors note: Reporter Jeff Havens was an RVC employee from 2000 to 2002, before Chapdelaine recommended the board fire Havens on Aug. 13, 2002. While Havens was an employee at RVC, he spearheaded a union organization effort for RVC support staff and publicly called for the resignations of Chapdelaine and the Board during the summer of 2002.
Havens was terminated by the board in a near-unanimous vote after he was accused by Chapdelaine of interfering with students ability to learn and exercising undue influence on a student trustee. Trustee Doug Kelley abstained from voting to fire Havens because he did not have enough information to make a decision.
Havens was given five minutes to defend himself before he was fired.
Before he was terminated, Havens wrote guest columns that were critical of Chapdelaines administration for both the Rockford Register Star and The Rock River Times. Havens was also a member of the Rockford Register Stars community board in 2002.
Havens was hired by The Rock River Times approximately two months after his termination at RVC. Rather than sue RVC for wrongful termination, Havens elected to write news articles about the corruption and mismanagement problems at the college.
Halfway through the series, Havens and The Rock River Times became the target of an alleged libel lawsuit, which concerned an article published in April 2003. The lawsuit was filed in June 2003 by former RVC Trustee and Board Chairman Donald B. Johannes.
His lawsuit was thrown out of court in May 2004, after Johannes twice failed to show facts that would have provided the court with reasons to allow him to further pursue his claim.
In Johannes amended complaint to the court, Johannes contradicted Chapdelaines claim that Havens was fired for interfering with students ability to learn and exercising undue influence. Instead, Johannes said Havens was fired for writing negative articles about the college, and cited the columns in which Havens asked Chapdelaine and the Board to resign.
Since that time, Havens former position as physical science laboratory manager has become vacant and filled. However, RVC refused to consider Havens for his former position, despite Johannes admission in court documents.
Johannes was chairman of the RVC Board the evening Havens was terminated.
From the Nov. 9-15, 2005, issue