Former California University of Pennsylvania president Angelo Armenti Jr. has filed a suit in Commonwealth Court challenging his firing in May.
The suit is against the state System of Higher Education, which oversees the 14 state-owned universities including California; Guido Pichini, chairman of the system's board of governors; and chancellor John Cavanaugh.
In a news release, his attorney, Steven Toprani, said, "The State System operated behind closed doors and under a veil of secrecy intending to deprive Dr. Armenti of any meaningful information concerning the manner in which he was terminated and the reasons underlying it."
Kenn Marshall, spokesman for the state System of Higher Education, declined to comment.
The lawsuit, which was filed last week, alleges violations of the Sunshine Act and asks the court to issue a permanent injunction "compelling the respondents to comply with the Sunshine Act by conducting public proceedings" regarding the employment of Mr. Armenti, who headed the university since 1992.
It also asks the court to order the school to follow board policy and provide a "complete evaluation" of Mr. Armenti as well as to enjoin those sued from "any other unlawful act" as "equity and justice would permit."
According to the suit, the executive committee conducted a nonpublic, four-hour meeting on May 9 at which "an unrecorded vote was cast purporting to authorize the board to 'take whatever action was deemed necessary [against Mr. Armenti].' "
On May 16, Mr. Pichini, relying on the results of the May 9 meeting, met with Mr. Armenti and told him his job was terminated. At the May 16 meeting, the suit states, Mr. Pichini told Mr. Armenti that he must retire immediately or be terminated "because of turmoil on the CalU campus."
The suit states the system's chief counsel, Leonidas Pandeladis, told him the termination was "without cause."
On May 17, the chief counsel told him he would receive two years of compensation unless he filed a suit, which would result in him being terminated for cause, the suit states.
On the same day, the system released a CalU financial report, which the suit argues is "fundamentally flawed."
On May 25, the board ratified the termination at an open meeting at which a quorum was present, the suit states.
The suit maintains that this meeting took place without proper public notice and with only a vague agenda.
The suit states the system subsequently has denied Right to Know requests related to Mr. Armenti's termination, causing him to lack "pertinent information regarding other potential claims or rights."
Education writer Eleanor Chute: email@example.com or 412-263-1955. First Published August 22, 2012 4:00 AM