‘Do what is right:’ NIC trustee appeals to State Board

Saying the majority of the board appears “determined to destroy NIC,” one of the college’s trustees is making an appeal to the State Board of Education.

In a May 1 letter to the State Board, Tarie Zimmerman insisted the State Board has the “broad legal authority” to intervene, and rescue North Idaho College’s accreditation.

Tarie Zimmerman

“The current majority on the NIC board, if left unchecked, will undoubtedly cause the loss of accreditation,” Zimmerman wrote. “The (State) Board is broadly empowered and must take such actions as it deems necessary to adequately manage NIC and prevent accreditation loss and further damage to NIC.

“As a trustee for NIC, I implore you to do what is right on behalf of the students and staff of NIC and the North Idaho community and exercise your power to save NIC.”

Kaye Thornbrugh of the Coeur d’Alene Press first reported Tuesday on Zimmerman’s letter, which escalates the public tensions surrounding the five-member board.

Zimmerman was elected to the board in November. She has frequently been at odds with the board’s governing majority — Kootenai County Republican Central Committee-aligned trustees Greg McKenzie, Todd Banducci and recently elected Mike Waggoner. This bloc placed President Nick Swayne on paid administrative leave in December, reinstated Swayne under a court order, and in late April declared Swayne’s contract null and void.

The churn comes as a regional panel has threatened to yank NIC’s accreditation, largely because of the college’s governing turmoil and administrative turnover. A decision is expected by summer.

The State Board has not actively intervened in the NIC situation — save for last May, when it filled three vacancies on the college’s board. The three appointees hired Swayne in June, over objections from Banducci and McKenzie. Since then, the board and Gov. Brad Little have said the state must defer to NIC’s locally elected trustees.

The Idaho Constitution’s language, however, is broad. “The general supervision of the state educational institutions and public school system of the state of Idaho, shall be vested in a state board of education.”

The State Board is not working on a response to Zimmerman, spokesman Mike Keckler told Thornbrugh. On Tuesday morning, Keckler confirmed that the board has not replied to the letter.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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