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  • Writer's pictureErin B.

NIC Special Meeting Brings Discussions to Censure Trustee and Nullify President's Contract

Last night’s special meeting of the North Idaho College was definitely….special.

Before anyone settles down from the events of last night please be aware that the regular monthly NIC board meeting will be held this Wednesday at the regular Edminster Building at 6pm.

The Wednesday meeting will have bleedover from the Monday meeting but Wednesday does not have an executive session on the agenda so get to the Edminster Building early to get a seat.

First, a side note: there were protesters(?) in the room before the executive session that brought some humorous signs to the meeting. It triggered some in the room like the wife of former appointed NIC trustee John Goedde who got up from her seat in the audience and made a beeline back to these two and called them a “piece of sh*t.”

Monday Special Meeting Recap

Executive Session

Although there was an executive session on the agenda, the board discussed whether or not they needed to go into the session. The motion to go into executive session failed.

Action/Discussion: Security External Review and Assessment

As part of the broader discussion around school security, Greg McKenzie wants to have a Request for Proposal (RFP) opened up for outside security agencies to give an estimate for their services to assess the college and see how security can be amped up. President Swayne mentioned that he is meeting with Idaho Safe Schools this week who does these assessments for free, but the concern from some of the board members is if Idaho Safe Schools will be adequate or would an outside company be better. President Swayne says there’s no harm in having an RFP opened to see what else would be out there, to run parallel with the Idaho Safe Schools assessment.

Erin Note: When I searched for Idaho Safe Schools all I found was the Idaho Safe Schools Coalition whose mission is to advocate for LGBTQ safety at schools. There were some grants given to them 10 years ago but it looks like their website is now defunct. No word on if they’re still around. I am assuming (hoping) Swayne meant Idaho Standard Command Response for Schools, which is an Idaho-funded school threat assessment arm of the government.

Action/Discussion: Board Response to Unauthorized Distribution of Macomber Report – Censure Trustee Corkill

There is a new report that board attorney Art Macomber drafted, given to the board under confidentiality, and somehow it magically appeared in the hands of President Swayne’s attorney, Tara Malek, who is representing Swayne currently in a lawsuit against the board.

Trustee Brad Corkill was called out as the person who gave that report up (which magically ended up in the hands of Malek) and he admitted as much. He said that attorney/client privilege only applies to the attorney and the “clients” can give up whatever information they want. Macomber was allowed to speak and noted that on the front cover of the report, taking up half the page, says that “this material is confidential between North Idaho College Counsel and the Board of Trustees…” Macomber also mentions that he took this confidentiality statement directly from the reports that former attorney Marc Lyons used when sending around his reports because it was a good statement for the board and wanted to continue using it.

There was no response from Corkill about that report confidentiality statement but Trustee Tarie Zimmerman made a statement saying that Corkill is “one of the most honorable men she knows,” and yes, Corkill did release the report but the board shouldn’t think of censuring Corkill, not because he isn’t guilty of going against his fiduciary duty to the college, but because “accreditation is always top of mind.”

Corkill did not deny that he gave the confidential document over stating, “maybe I did, maybe I didn’t,” and then proceeded to say he was “stunned when he saw the Macomber Report.” That statement led to some comments by McKenzie saying he had wished the board was able to write some of the responses to the accreditation questions so the trustees could explain the logic behind some of their actions instead of having to write responses based on the CDA Trash Press narratives that are included in the accreditation report.

Banducci extended an olive branch to Corkill saying he wouldn’t vote to censure him if Corkill agrees to not release anything prematurely and Corkill apologizing in an open meeting for his actions. Corkill did neither, only stating that he would let the board know in advance next time he plans on releasing something to the public prematurely.

Banducci still voted against censuring him; the vote to censure failed 3-1 with Waggoner being the lone person to censure. (McKenzie did not vote.)

Action/Discussion: Board Response to Macomber Report on Investigation of Dr. Swayne’s Contract

Under this agenda item the board discussed when the Macomber Report would be released to the public. Banducci wanted to release the unredacted Report immediately after the special meeting but Communications Director Laura Rumpler asked if her staff could have more time to prep the document and add it to the website for everyone. The board voted to give the report to Rumpler by 9am today so her team could get it onto the NIC website by 4pm this afternoon.

Luckily for you, I have a copy of the Macomber Report which you can download here.

Action/Discussion: Discussion and Vote Regarding Curing of Possible Open Meeting Violation at June 22, 2022 Board Meeting regarding “Action: Selection of President” and Follow-on Decisions Stemming from That Violation

This was a mess of an agenda item. McKenzie implied that this action item is to cure the June 22, 2022 meeting and because it was never cured the vote to approve Swayne as president is null and void. There was a lot of back and forth on if this was even possible; Zimmerman made a statement that she will not participate in curing this meeting because it is past the statute of limitations and by voting on this she is breaking the law.

The law that the board was referring to was Idaho §74-208 regarding open meeting laws.

Zimmerman also argued that Judge Cynthia Meyer has already ruled that Swayne gets to keep his presidency during the course of his lawsuit against the board, which is why Greg South is no longer at the college as Acting President.

No matter what the outcome of the board’s decision, McKenzie says, Swayne will continue as president.

The motion to change the status of the president’s contract to null and void did pass, however, with a 3-2 vote. But Swayne will continue as president per Judge Meyer’s order.

Action/Discussion: Board Reserving State Statute Rights

This is a sticky agenda item. Banducci says he wants to change board policy so that the board can give their feedback on individuals before the president hires them for an NIC position. After a lot of back and forth the audience finds out that there are a few positions that some on the board are concerned about (no mention of what those positions are) and, although he doesn’t say the board needs/wants hiring power, he wants the board to be able to give feedback on the individual before hiring.

Corkill mentioned that the president runs the college and the president picks the staff, the board does not get involved. Banducci states that he doesn’t want to pick the staff or hire/fire anyone, he just wants the board to be able to provide feedback on certain positions before the final decision is made. There is one job position that he is specifically thinking about for this feedback although it was never said in the meeting. Online speculation says it’s a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Oversight position but it is just a rumor.

Zimmerman called out the fact that she and Mike Waggoner have come together and want to put together a board policy subcommittee to take all the board’s concerns about every topic and wade through them to see what can and cannot be used/updated in board policy. This discussion item is added to the agenda for this Wednesday’s regular board meeting.

Banducci rescinded his motion (after Waggoner removed his second) after he and President Swayne agreed to meet and discuss Banducci’s thoughts/concerns further.

Action/Discussion: Discussion and Vote Regarding Curing Open Meeting Violations that Occurred in November and December of 2022 (Emails between Trustee McKenzie, Trustee Banducci, Trustee Waggoner, and Art Macomber)

This agenda item was brought forward by Tarie Zimmerman who decided to take this off the agenda as she wants to gather her thoughts further before discussing this item. This item was removed off the agenda and the meeting adjourned immediately after that.

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