COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Michael Sebaaly, North Idaho College’s head wrestling coach, was voted by the board of trustees to assume the responsibility of interim president for the college at the special board meeting Monday night at NIC's main campus, as reported by KREM 2 news partner the Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls Press.
Sebaaly is to assume the position no later than Nov. 10.
The vote to select Sebaaly passed 3 to 2, with Trustees Christie Wood and Ken Howard voting against.
“There was no integrity or honesty in the selection process whatsoever,” Wood said. “Nothing against the candidate, but there was no process to look for qualified candidates. Qualified candidates were not even considered.”
There were a total of 10 applicants for the position which offered compensation equaling $180,000 annually, prorated for time serving as interim president.
Wood and Howard stepped out of the two-hour executive session because they said the process was a sham and they couldn’t vote for any of the final three applicants in consideration.
“In my opinion it was already predetermined and the applicants that were chosen do not meet the qualifications whatsoever to run this institution,” Wood said. “I know for a fact that they are personal friends with the board chair. The relationships are deep and that's why I call the whole entire thing corruption.”
Board chair Todd Banducci only responded that he hoped people would support Sebaaly in his new role and he looked forward to seeing him hopefully do a good job.
Sebaaly came to NIC in June 2019 as the new head wrestling coach and an instructor. He has a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Southwestern University.
Banducci and Trustee Greg McKenzie also said in the meeting they would like to have additional legal counsel for the board, although specifications were not given. Banducci said he is currently working on the process alone and hopes to have defined the role by the regular meeting on Wednesday.
“There are times where there can appear to be some conflicts of the direction of different parts of what we consider to be a college community,” Banducci said. “I would like to have the ability to have a line of separation or a wall of separation as there are times when we put our attorney in a position of talking to this person then talking to this person.”
Banducci said rather than having college attorney Marc Lyons be uncomfortably caught in the middle of an issue, he thought a second attorney would be helpful.
“If you think he's being uncomfortable it's because he's trying to be right,” Howard said. “It doesn’t mean something has to replace him, and quite honestly, this whole idea of you want to have your own lawyer for this board, I don’t trust. I don’t trust you.”
Wood said the point is the three trustees, Banducci, McKenzie and Micheal Barnes, don’t want to hear what Lyons has to say, which she said is the legal advice they need.
“You've already cost this house $270,000 for a president that's not sitting here, and we’re going to pay for another president,” Wood said. “We have a lawsuit on top of that and now you want the taxpayers to pay for even more legal counsel.”
After much back and forth, the meeting was adjourned abruptly as Wood said there was no point to continue the conversation.
Action items on the regular meeting scheduled for this Wednesday include the selection of additional/supplemental board legal counsel.
Senior Executive Assistant Shannon Goodrich said that to her knowledge NIC has never had a separate attorney for the board.
The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our news partner, click here.