North Idaho School leaders urged trustees to reinstate Swayne

North Idaho College leaders urged trustees to reinstate Swayne

Nick Swayne

Final month, two prime North Idaho School directors urged trustees to reinstate President Nick Swayne, in an try to protect the faculty’s accreditation.

Two days later, trustees took a unique path. They as an alternative voted to rent a brand new interim president, former NIC administrator Gregory South, whereas holding Swayne on paid administrative go away. It means the faculty is on the hook to pay each South and Swayne — at a mixed annual wage of $465,000.

NIC defended its transfer this week. In a report back to regional accreditors, NIC mentioned its trustees “took their accountability significantly” by shortly contacting and hiring South, filling a management vacuum at the embattled neighborhood school. Reinstating Swayne was out of the query, NIC mentioned, partly as a result of he has sued the faculty in an try to return to work.

NIC’s report represents the faculty’s formal response to the newest risk to its accreditation. On Dec. 17, the Northwest Fee on Schools and Universities once more mentioned governing dysfunction positioned the faculty’s accreditation in jeopardy — and ordered NIC to submit a written response explaining why the faculty ought to stay accredited. NIC submitted its response on Wednesday’s due date.

A lack of accreditation may have a profound impact on NIC and its 4,300 college students. Course credit from NIC wouldn’t switch to different faculties, affecting full- and part-time college students and highschool college students taking twin credit score lessons. College students would even be ineligible for the state’s Alternative Scholarship.

The accreditation woes are tied, partially, to the management churn.

On Dec. 19, two days after the NWCCU issued its warning, school co-CEOs Lloyd Duman and Sarah Garcia gave trustees a written listing of suggestions. Considered one of their suggestions was to instantly reinstate Swayne, who had been positioned on go away Dec. 8.

Gregory South

On a divided vote, trustees employed South as interim president on Dec. 21.

The Kootenai County Republican Central Committee-aligned majority bloc on the board — and their not too long ago employed legal professional, Artwork Macomber, a political ally — say that they put Swayne on administrative go away to be able to examine a change in his contract. Due to that investigation — and Swayne’s Dec. 16 lawsuit, searching for his reinstatement — the GOP-aligned trustees and Macomber preserve that the faculty wanted to rent an interim president.

South will make $235,000 a yr, eclipsing Swayne’s $230,000 wage. And it’s unclear how lengthy South will keep on the job, whereas Swayne stays in paid limbo. South’s contract runs via June 2024.

“The outcomes of the investigation and litigation will decide the plan of action for the board concerning the standing of (Swayne),” NIC mentioned in its report back to accreditors.

Within the 12-page response, officers identified to a number of steps they’ve taken to deal with NIC’s ongoing turmoil.

  • South has the go-ahead “to fill all vacant senior administrative positions.” Management turnover has been considered one of NWCCU’s recurring accreditation issues.
  • Board Chairman Greg McKenzie has publicly apologized for “his errors and foul language” throughout a sequence of contentious latest conferences. “(South and McKenzie) are dedicated to working with fellow trustees in the direction of constructing mutual respect with one another, members of the college, employees and administration, and the general public.”
  • NIC’s new administrative group “has pledged to work with the board to arrange the event of and to information and coach trustees on the principals (sic) of excellent governance.”
  • The board acknowledged a number of violations of Idaho’s Open Assembly Legislation, and trustees pledged to hunt open conferences coaching from the legal professional basic’s workplace “as quickly as potential.”

However NIC’s response additionally acknowledged some pricey issues, on prime of the worth of sustaining two presidents on the payroll.

In December, Moody’s Buyers Service mentioned it was reviewing NIC for a possible downgrade, which may have an effect on $7.9 million in money owed.

NIC’s insurance coverage payments have additionally elevated sharply. The school is paying $500,000 for legal responsibility protection with a brand new provider, after the Idaho Counties Danger Administration Program dropped the faculty earlier this yr. ICRMP had charged the faculty $321,000.

ICRMP dropped the faculty after it was compelled to pay out about half of the faculty’s practically $500,000 settlement with former President Rick MacLennan, who was fired in 2021.


Kevin Richert

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert focuses on training politics and training coverage. He has greater than 30 years of expertise in Idaho journalism. He’s a frequent visitor on KIVI 6 On Your Facet; “Idaho Stories” on Idaho Public Tv; and “Idaho Issues” on Boise State Public Radio. Comply with Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He will be reached at [email protected]

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