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Idaho State Board of Education - Possible Ilegal Action

Do you agree or disagree?


"Dear Mr. Labrador:


I am requesting that the Attorney General of the State of Idaho take swift action and intervene in illegal actions by the Idaho State Board of Education and the NWCCU. I would like the Attorney General to inform the SBOE that they are violating accreditation standards in Idaho law and undermining state statutes by mandating NWCCU as the accrediting agency for all Idaho higher education, especially for community colleges that have a dedicated board governance.


The original policy about accreditation from the SBOE was created in June and August of 2011. This policy did not include the community colleges. In June and August of 2022, the SBOE expanded their authority to dictate terms of accreditation evaluations to the community colleges.[1][2] Concerns were raised then regarding the legality of that decision. Tomorrow, February 15, 2023, the SBOE will be working to expand their authority over community colleges and take power from elected governing boards with another revision of Board Policy III.M Public Postsecondary Accreditation that indicates who must accredit colleges in Idaho.


NIC is facing discrimination and violations of its rights by an outside agency, the NWCCU, because of its political persuasion. This is a clear violation of their civil rights being perpetrated by the NWCCU.


Dr. Ramaswamy, president of the NWCCU, has not followed his own agency's policies in his actions surrounding NIC including violation of conflict of interest and having information released prior to the completion of their “investigations”. Dr. Ramaswamy has told faculty members at NIC (Kaitz) that higher education needs to root out conservatives. The violation of the following policies are also in question.


The show cause letter mentions that the NWCCU received multiple complaints from the community and NIC staff. See NWCCU letter dated February 9, 2023 (“Numerous complaints from members of the NIC and Coeur d’Alene communities have continued to be received by NWCCU"). Under the policies of the NWCCU, they only investigate complaints about an accredited institution "when the complainant has exhausted all of the institution's appeal procedures. “See NCCU FAQ "What if I have a complaint about an accredited institution." https://nwccu.org/tools-resources/faq-glossary/. NIC has a grievance procedure for employees at policy 3.02.23 and a complaint process for students at policy 5.16. There may be other applicable policies. Did any of the complainants submit their complaints to NIC much less exhaust appeal procedures? If not, it would appear the NWCCU is violating its own procedures by considering the complaints in its evaluation.


NWCCU also requires a significant amount of detail and evidence for complaints submitted to the NWCCU and has a process and timeline for dealing with complaints. See NWCCU Complaint policy https://nwccu.app.box.com/s/w2t7vonu5b1c084gtomyt3c6sbftipfl .


First, among other requirements, complaints need the following information: 1) statement of facts supported by evidence of non-compliance with a specific eligibility requirement, not just an individual grievance; 2) "absent extraordinary circumstances", proof of compliance with institutions grievance process; 3) summary of relief requested from NWCCU; and 4) signed by complainant. Were these requirements met in all complaints?


Next, NWCCU has an established process for its review of complaints. First, after acknowledging receipt of a complaint, NWCCU president determines if the complaint relates to an eligibility requirement or if investigation is necessary. If yes, the NWCCU sends a notice to the college with the complaint and provides the supporting documents along with notice of the nature and scope of NWCCU's investigation. After the investigation, the NWCCU will summarize its findings in a written notice to the college President and request a written response within 45 days. Then there is a procedure for a preliminary decision which may include a referral to the Board of Accreditation. The accreditation board commissioners have a separate process. Multiple complaints regarding common questions of fact may be consolidated but would collectively follow the above procedures for resolution. Were any of these above procedures followed by the NWCCU? If not, is NWCCU violating its accreditation process? Further why is a show cause response granted less response time than a response to a complaint? The show cause letter provides less than 45 days for NIC's response. While there is no set timeframe in the accreditation handbook for a college's response to a NWCCU request to show cause, which according to the show cause letter requires NIC to support all accreditation requirements and standards, logic would tell you it should be much a much longer timeframe than a response to in individual complaint.


Because of the NWCCU and Ramaswamy’s actions, NIC and its community is facing the loss of Title IV funding, which is a deprivation of the entire community's rights. Without intervention from the AG’s office, North Idaho will be irreparably harmed. Harm to its reputation, recruitment, and retention efforts are already being felt by these unjustified actions. Elected officials are also being undermined by these actions jeopardizing Idaho elections moving forward.


Accreditation is supposed to be based on facts, and the NWCCU is operating on feelings and innuendos. NIC is too important to the community and the welfare

of the state to allow these unconstitutional actions of the NWCCU to continue.


Again, the original policy about accreditation from the SBOE was created in June and August of 2011. This policy did not include the community colleges. In June and August of 2022, the SBOE expanded their authority to dictate terms of accreditation evaluations to the community colleges.[1][2] They are again working tomorrow, February 15, 2023, to expand their authority over community colleges and take power from elected governing boards with another revision of Board Policy III.M Public Postsecondary Accreditation that indicates who must accredit colleges in Idaho. This is problematic not only for the power grab, but also because accreditation must be voluntary. They are taking away the voluntary. Florida also tried to dictate who could accredit institutions and they were told they could not mandate this.


I am requesting that the Attorney General of the State of Idaho take swift action and intervene in these illegal actions.



Sincerely,


Nina Beesley

Resident of Rathdrum, Idaho (Kootenai County)"




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