NIC trustees nullify Swayne’s contract

With a pivotal accreditation site visit coming this week, North Idaho College’s presidential politics took another turn Monday night.

On a divided 3-2 vote, trustees declared President Nick Swayne’s contract null and void. But Swayne will remain on the job until trustees decide otherwise, Kaye Thornbrugh of the Coeur d’Alene Press reported Monday.

Monday’s board action marked the latest chapter in a prolonged power struggle at the embattled community college.

Three State Board of Education-appointed trustees hired Swayne in June, over the objections of trustees Greg McKenzie and Todd Banducci.

Nick Swayne

When voters in November elected candidate Mike Waggoner — a political ally of McKenzie and Banducci — Swayne’s status fell into question. The three trustees voted to put Swayne on paid administrative leave while another political ally, newly hired attorney Art Macomber, launched a review of Swayne’s contract.

Swayne was reinstated in March, but only under a court order.

Trustee Tarie Zimmerman argued against nullifying Swayne’s contract, Thornbrugh reported, saying the move would violate March’s court order.

Banducci disagreed.

“I guess it comes down to whose legal advice we’re taking, since the judge doesn’t work for us and Mr. Macomber does,” said Banducci, according to Thornbrugh’s report.

The board vote comes as NIC’s accreditation remains in jeopardy — and if the college loses accreditation, students would no longer qualify for financial aid, and would be unable to transfer NIC credits to another school.

Accreditors have listed several concerns with NIC, including an exodus of senior management, and trustees’ December decision to place Swayne on leave. In February, the head of the region’s accrediting body said trustees have failed to fully appreciate that their actions have threatened the “welfare and viability” of NIC.

Accreditors are visiting the campus this week. A decision isn’t expected before June.

Meanwhile, it appears trustees’ work isn’t finished for the week. They will meet again Wednesday night. Among the agenda items: “Policy Development for Presidential Succession.”


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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