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State answers questions about North Idaho College accreditation concerns

The Idaho Board of Education has responded to questions about what happens to transfer credits if North Idaho College loses accreditation.

BOISE, Idaho — North Idahoans have questions about their college, and the Idaho State Board of Education has answers, as reported by KREM 2 news partner the Coeur d'Alene Press.   

In response to about a dozen calls of questions and concerns over North Idaho College, the SBOE has created a Q&A sheet, according to Mike Keckler, SBOE chief communications and legislative affairs officer.

The document was developed by SBOE Executive Director Matt Freeman and Deputy Attorney General Jenifer Marcus, and reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office, Keckler told the Press on Monday.

The state board will discuss North Idaho College on Wednesday morning. NIC's Board of Trustees will meet in Coeur d'Alene later that day.

Idaho State Board of Education,

North Idaho College Q & A

Does a community college district trustee have to continue to live in the trustee zone the trustee lived in when elected?

Idaho Code § 33-2106(1) provides that “The board of trustees of each community college district shall consist of five (5) electors who shall reside in a different trustee zone from each other and who shall be appointed or elected as provided in this section.” Generally, when a qualification for election is indicated within the statutes, such as residency, that qualification must be maintained throughout an official’s term in office. Although the community college statute (Idaho Code Title 33, Chapter 21) does not specifically address this issue, a more general statute, Idaho Code § 59-901(e) provides that a vacancy occurs upon the incumbent ceasing to be a resident of the district for which he or she has been elected. Idaho Code is silent as to the mechanism for how vacancies are recognized and declared. The most likely path is for a qualified elector to bring an action to have a seat declared vacant. See, Idaho Code § 59-901(e), and Idaho Code § 6-602.

Do all eligible electors in a community college district get to vote for trustee candidates in each of the 5 trustee zones?

Yes. See, Idaho Code § 33-2106(4).

If there is a vacancy on the board of trustees, how is a replacement trustee chosen?

Idaho Code § 33-33-2106(2) provides that vacancies on the board of trustees shall be filled by appointment by the remaining members. If less than 3 members remain on the board, vacancies shall be filled by the State Board of Education. Any person appointed to fill a vacancy must reside in the zone where the vacancy occurs.

What if there is a vacancy on the board of trustees but the remaining four trustees cannot agree on the selection of the replacement trustee?

If the remaining 4 trustees are unable to agree on the selection of the replacement trustee, the vacancy would remain until the next community college trustee election. Idaho Code § 33-2106(7) provides that three members of the board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of official business.

If NIC loses accreditation, will NIC students be able to transfer credits earned after the loss of accreditation to other public higher education institutions?

If accreditation is lost, the value of a degree from NIC will be significantly reduced, or even negated entirely, for all students. Idaho Code § 33-3728(1) provides: “Any student who completes the requirements for the associate of arts or associate of science degree at a postsecondary institution accredited by a regional accrediting body recognized by the state board of education will be considered as satisfying the general education requirements, as defined by the state board of education, upon transfer to a public postsecondary institution in Idaho and will not be required to complete any additional general education requirements.” If NIC loses accreditation, AA and AAS degrees earned by students will no longer be transferable to other public postsecondary institutions for the purpose of degree completion (i.e. earning a baccalaureate degree).

Without accreditation, students who complete general education credits, including dual credits, at NIC would not be allowed to transfer these credits to another public postsecondary institution in Idaho. Idaho Code § 33-3728(2) provides: “A student who has completed the general education framework as defined by the state board of education, without an associate of arts or associate of science degree, and transfers from a postsecondary institution in Idaho accredited by a regional accrediting body recognized by the state board of education will not be required to complete additional general education requirements at the receiving Idaho public postsecondary institution” (emphasis added). Completion of courses at accredited institutions in Idaho which satisfy the general education framework (as defined in State Board Policy III.N.) transfer and articulate fully throughout the system. Idaho Code § 33-3729(3) emphasizes this point: “If a student who has completed a general education course or general education courses … from a postsecondary institution in Idaho accredited by a regional accrediting body recognized by the state board of education; and transfers to a public postsecondary institution, those general education course credits will be applied towards the associated general education course requirements at the receiving public postsecondary institution.” Loss of accreditation status would make NIC general education credits non-transferable to other Idaho public postsecondary institutions.

If NIC were to lose accreditation, would Opportunity Scholarship recipients be able to continue using the scholarship at NIC?

“Eligible students” would remain eligible for use of the scholarship at another “eligible Idaho postsecondary education institution.” Idaho Code § 33-4303(2). Private institutions are required to be accredited. There is not a similar accreditation requirement for public institutions, but as stated above, without accreditation, the benefits of attendance at an institution of higher education are greatly diminished.

Where do I find information about recall elections?

Idaho Code, Chapter 17, Title 24 addresses recall elections. Community colleges are not specifically addressed in Chapter 17, but Idaho Code § 34-1701(4) provides a mechanism for the recall of “special district elected officers for whom recall procedure is not otherwise provided by law.” The term “special district elected officers” is not defined in Idaho Code.

A recall election for a special district elected officer starts with the filing of a petition with verified signatures of registered electors with the county clerk of the county in which the district is located. “If the petition seeks recall of any of the officers named in Idaho Code § 34-1701 (4), the petition shall be filed with the county clerk of the county wherein the district is located. If the district is located in two (2) or more counties, the clerk in each county shall perform the functions within that county. The recall process is started with a filing of a verified written petition with the applicable county clerk. The petition must be signed by registered electors of the district or school trustee zone equal in number to fifty percent (50%) of the number of electors who cast votes in the last election of the district or school trustee zone. If no district election has been held in the last six (6) years, the petition must be signed by twenty percent (20%) of the number of electors registered to vote in the district or school trustee zone at the time the petition is filed.” Idaho Code § 34-1702(5). A form of petition for special districts is set forth in Idaho Code § 34-1703(5)

Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our news partner, click here.

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