NIU racks up $1.15 million in pay for suspended employees since July 2012


By Kelly Bauer

Seven NIU employees are on paid leave, adding to the about $1.15 million the university has paid to suspended employees since July 2012.

Employees are not able to work while on leave, though they continue to receive their salary in accordance with state guidelines NIU follows from the State Universities Civil Service System. Employees may be placed on paid leave for disciplinary measures or while the university investigates an employee’s actions in addition to military and disability leaves, among other forms of suspended employment.

Former NIU Lt. Kartik Ramakrishnan has received the highest payout from July 2012 to August 2014, being paid more than $162,000 since being placed on paid leave in November 2012. NIU attempted to dismiss Ramakrishnan in November 2012 after a judge found the lieutenant had not given prosecutors two witness statements in a rape case.

Ramakrishnan was reinstated by a merit board in September 2013, but the university lists him as being on paid leave.

Kathy Buettner, former vice president of University Relations; Controller Keith Jackson and Deputy Police Chief Darren Mitchell are also on paid leave. Buettner has received about $67,000 in compensation after being put on paid leave in May, while Jackson has been paid about $38,000 since May and Mitchell has been paid about $68,000 since February.

The Northern Star received data on paid leave through a Freedom of Information Act request to NIU.

What is administrative leave?

State employees may request leave or be placed on leave for disciplinary and medical purposes, among other things.

NIU uses guidelines for handling employee leave from the State Universities Civil Service System, which maintains “a comprehensive and efficient program of human resource administration for the higher education community, specifically related to the employment and employment relationship with their auxiliary and support staff positions,” according to its website.

The guidelines explain for what purposes administrative leave may be used and how employees may be reinstated.

What types of leave are there?

Disciplinary action: Employees may be placed on suspension as a disciplinary measure or suspended pending discharge from their jobs.

Disability: Employees may use disability leave or be placed on leave if they are unable to perform their duties due to a disability.

Military: Employees may leave to meet their military duties in accordance with state and federal law.

Classification changes: Employees who take a position that “represents a promotion in a class outside [their] promotional line” may take a leave from their former job for an interim or provisional appointment or a probationary period in the new class, according to the State Universities Civil Service System.