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Judge Orders North Idaho College to Reinstate NIC President Placed on Leave Without Cause

North Idaho College (NIC) has been court-ordered to reinstate NIC President Dr. Nick Swayne, who was placed on administrative leave without cause late last year, The Spokesman-Review reported.President Nick SwaynePresident Nick Swayne

Judge Cynthia Meyer of Kootenai County District Court gave the order Mar. 3 for the public community college to take Swayne off leave for the duration of his lawsuit.

“The Board’s majority has wrongfully locked its captain in the brig while steering NIC toward an iceberg,” Meyer wrote in a preliminary injunction.

In December 2022, a divided NIC board put Swayne on administrative leave per the advice of interim legal counsel Art Macomber to “investigate” the terms of Swayne’s contract. Swayne sued NIC in response, arguing that his contract did not allow the board to put him on leave without cause.

“The Board’s decision to keep him on leave without cause is hostile and arbitrary,” Meyer wrote. “It appears that the investigation is a sham and a pretext for Dr. Swayne’s removal from his position as President.”

The board has since attempted to reinstate Swayne but was unsuccessful due to a failed vote. The board is expected to respond to the court order Monday evening at a special board meeting.

In late December, the board hired Greg South as interim president. But nothing in his contract indicates that he would be just an interim placement, the court found. His contract runs at least until Jun. 30, 2024, unless terminated and does not mention the possibility of Swayne being reinstated.

The school is also facing the possibility of losing accreditation as soon as this summer.

Before Swayne, NIC fired without cause former NIC president Rick MacLennan, who received a $500,000 settlement in a wrongful termination suit against the school afterwards.


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