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North Idaho College trustees reject motion for chair's resignation

During a special meeting of the NIC Board of Trustees, Christie Wood called for trustee action to revoke Tod Banducci's leadership position.
Credit: Madison Hardy
North Idaho College Trustee Greg McKenzie (left) stands with Doug Balija (right) after the special meeting Wednesday night. Both men were happy to "keep Todd" Banducci on the board following weeks of tension.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Following weeks of tension, a motion for Todd Banducci's resignation from the North Idaho College Board of Trustees failed by a 3-2 vote. 

During a special meeting between the board Wednesday night, college administration, and faculty, Trustee Christie Wood called for trustee action to revoke Banducci's leadership position. Supported by fellow Trustee Ken Howard, the vote was opposed by Vice-Chair Trustee Greg McKenzie, Trustee Michael Barnes, and Banducci himself. 

When initially making the motion, Wood said she did not take the decision lightly to call for Banducci's resignation. However, the mounting crisis she was witnessing in trustee leadership was overwhelming. 

"Last month, after reading some of the emails between you and our president, I became very concerned," Wood said. "I don't think Trustee Banducci that as the chair you've understood your level of authority, and were making decisions and giving direction without the full board discussion."

Howard, who previously served as board vice-chair last year, said it was with great dread and distress that he supported Banducci's resignation. His overriding concerns were not for Banducci but the overall damage to the institution. 

"It breaks my heart, quite frankly, and I think the only way that this could be put to rest, at least until we get the training and the background and experience that all of the trustees need, is for the chair to be removed," Howard said. "We are facing a severe public image issue. This community has to have confidence in us. It has to have confidence in the trustees to carry on an appropriate relationship with the administration."

Since Wood's comments in January, the NIC faculty has voted no confidence in Banducci, and media posts and an online petition have expressed community concern with the current board makeup. 

RELATED: North Idaho College trustee calls for chair to resign over alleged 'pattern of abuse'

"The breakdown in trust, as evidenced by these seven faculty resolutions, the breakdown in the community trust in our institution as evidenced by the articles in the paper and various other social media protests concern me," Howard said. "It's not about Todd. I do not want to see him destroyed or in any way humiliated. I want to see the college operate again on the level I think it is capable of operating on."

McKenzie strongly disagreed with Wood's claims in her Jan. 18 letter and said that the discussion of Banducci's conduct should have been confined to board meetings instead of disseminated to the community and dividing the college. 

"I should not have to state that every trustee should behave in a respectful manner, in regard to personal and civil rights of other board members. There are appropriate ways to address grievances and disagreements, and to engage in discourse," McKenzie said. "Boards are about creating engagement and collaboration, and recent actions have hurt the image of our institution. If I were an outside observer, I would find this lack of decorum unsettling." 

McKenzie went on to say that he and Banducci have been held against a different standard due to their Republican Party affiliation. He also went on to pull evidence from Wood's emails and personal conversations with Wood where she has "repeatedly shared with (McKenzie) her skepticism regarding what she considered to be his nefarious actions or thoughts he is conjuring."

"I do not see Trustee Banducci running to the media, airing your dirty laundry, or calling for your resignation while you work to fulfill your trustee responsibilities the way you see fit," McKenzie said. "Trustee Wood imagines Trustee Banducci's 'illicit conniving' and then demands to have proof of these imaginings through abuse of the public records process."

In reviewing Wood's findings and the comments made by other board members, Barnes agreed with McKenzie that this discussion should have been kept in-house and resolved within the recent executive session before being "exposed to the court of public opinion."

"I didn't see anything related to the chairman's requests or behaviors related to the board activities as being particularly egregious," Barnes said. "I see no reason for me to remove him from the chairmanship. I have no stomach for removing him despite the external pressures."

Banducci, who remained quiet for the majority of the conversation, echoed Barnes and McKenzie's comments. If Wood or Howard didn't wish ill on the institution's image, their worries should have been addressed internally. However, he recognized that option is now unavailable. 

"It would have been nice if there'd been a conversation a couple of weeks ago to preempt this coordinated PR campaign," Banducci said. "It was all done very intentionally coordinated."

By recommendation of McKenzie, Howard, and other trustees' support, the board agreed to look for additional training, mentoring, and conflict management resources to better their relationship in the future. The next scheduled board of trustees meeting is Feb. 24 at 6 p.m.   

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