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Women join call for NIC chair to resign

| February 6, 2021 1:00 AM

We, the undersigned, want to state our support for NIC Trustee Christie Wood and NIC President Rick MacLennan and ask that NIC Board of Trustees Chair Todd Banducci resign.

His patterns of abuse and aggressive behavior and his willful disregard of college policy, as reported by Trustee Wood and President MacLennan, are disturbing and unacceptable. Trustees are entrusted with the well-being of the college. As such, their behavior ought to model the professionalism required to be effective leaders. Trustees must demonstrate, by their words and actions, respect for the dignity of students, employees and their fellow board members. Chair Banducci does not meet this standard.

We would like to address some specific actions of Chair Banducci that were brought to light by Trustee Wood’s letter to the board on Jan. 18, 2021, that was made public on Jan. 20, 2021, and by an email sent by President MacLennan to the NIC board on Jan. 18, both of which were reported on by the CDA Press on Jan. 20, 2021. Trustee Ken Howard has publicly acknowledged the accuracy of these events as reported by Trustee Wood and President MacLennan. These actions were confirmed in college emails obtained through a public records request.

Of particular concern is Chair Banducci’s treatment of women. He has twice threatened to physically assault Trustee Wood. In another incident, he shouted at and assumed a threatening posture over Trustee Judy Meyer. He verbally and physically assaulted a female employee, resulting in an investigation. As a result of this investigation, Mr. Banducci was censured by the board and signed a settlement with the employee agreeing to have no contact with her.

Another employee filed a Title IV complaint against Mr. Banducci charging him with sexual harassment. She dropped the complaint being too fearful to move forward with it. In addition to being morally reprehensible, these actions create a huge liability for the college.

Of further concern is Chair Banducci’s questioning of an NIC employee about a financial contribution made to the campaign of Dr. Joe Dunlap, who was running for the NIC Board. This is a clear attempt to intimidate an employee, and is a violation of the employee’s civil rights as well as a violation of NIC’s Political Activities Policy 3.02.11, which protects the rights of its employees to participate in civic life as private citizens.

Chair Banducci has overstepped his role with students as well. In 2014, Trustee Banducci’s behavior at public board meetings deeply disturbed ASNIC President Benaiah Cheevers. During his report, President Cheevers called for greater civility and specifically addressed Trustee Banducci’s treatment of Faculty Assembly Chair Michelle Lippert and Vice President for Community Relations and Marketing Mark Browning. Trustee Banducci berated Benaiah and called him an “indoctrinated pawn.” Recently, Trustee Banducci attempted to constrain the free speech rights of students.

Chair Banducci appears to believe that his role is to force a particular ideology onto the college. In an email to a student, he wrote that he was “battling the NIC deep state” and taking on the “liberal progressives.” Again, this type of statement creates a huge legal liability for the college. A dismissed employee could now sue NIC, stating that they had been fired because of their political belief.

As reported by President MacLennan and evidenced in emails, Chair Banducci has recently attempted to usurp the power of the board. According to Idaho law, individual board members have no power, as the board can only act collectively. Mr. Banducci has sent numerous emails to President MacLennan demanding specific actions that can only be directed by the board as a whole. Recently, Chair Banducci and other board members have violated open meeting laws by conducting board business via email.

For these reasons, the following women of Kootenai County call for Chair Banducci’s resignation.

Cory Alexander, Alice Arambarri, Lauri Armon, Fran Bahr, Lucy Barnard, Kathy Beechler, Maggi Broggel, Sally Cannon, Michele Chmielewski, Kathy Christie, Susan Crowe, Dawna Deen, Emily Dishman, Yvette Dunlap, Cory English, Robin Fields, Sandy Hatleberg Mamola, Judi K. Hanna, Christa Hazel, Sacia Holte, Lisa Houser, Heather Hoy-Eddy, Jeri Humphreys, Charli Johnson, Kim Johnson, Jamie Jonz, Wendy Kaihara, Kelsey Kay, Misty Keeler, Christina Kenck, Kristen Killingsworth, Kristin Kilmer, Brenda Kimbley, Cathy Kraus, Susan Lauer, Karen McManus Lauritzen, Dorothy Ley, Amanda Linarte, Michelle Lippert, Christina Littell, Vickie Locken, Paula Marano, Sara Meyer, Jenny Miller, Kristi Nivette Milan, Jessica Peterson, Hillary Peterson, Amber Poelstra, Kristen Pomerantz, Pam Pratt, Lynne Pulizzi, Eden Richey Irgens, Bronwyn Riley, Mary Rohlman, Tamara Sines-Kermelis, Jessica Smart, Cheryl Stransky, Juli Stratton, Jan Studer, Jessica Tenneson, Laura Tenneson, Kelly West, Blair Williams, Shari Williams, Bree Williams, Rosario Wohlsen, Sheila Wood