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Human Rights task forces respond

by Press Staff
| April 5, 2022 1:00 AM

Four regional human rights task forces have more to say about North Idaho College's response to the peer panel report from their accrediting organization.

The task forces, the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, Bonner County Human Rights Task Force, Boundary County Human Rights Task Force and Spokane County Human Rights Task Force, sent a follow up to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities after reviewing the institution’s response to the peer panel report recommending the institution be put probation.

The task forces previously sent two official complaints to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, citing actions of Board Chair Todd Banducci, Trustees Greg McKenzie and former trustee Michael Barnes.

This letter dated March 25 is the human rights task forces’ perspective on NIC’s response to the NWCCU, submitted to the NWCCU’s president.

Dear Dr. Ramaswamy:

After reading the North Idaho College March 12, 2022 response to the NWCCU Review Panel’s conclusions, we wish to respectfully provide our perspectives and clarifications to the NIC response to NWCCU with the following points:

FIRST: The NIC report to the NWCCU states that only the September and October 2021 monthly board meetings did not permit public comments. In fact, there were no public comments for six months in 2021. The reality is there were no regular monthly board meetings in January, June, July and August 2021 plus no public comments were allowed at the September and October meetings. In addition, the public was not allowed to comment at the special board meetings in 2021. Two of those special meetings produced critical decisions without public input (1) lifted the face mask mandate violating NIC policy procedures and state law and (2) the firing of NIC President Rick MacLennan without cause.

There is no historical record of precedent where the NIC Board has ever gone for six months in one year in isolation of the public’s interest and input prior to 2021.

We wish to clear the record regarding NIC’s response to NWCCU when the college response states that Dr. Rick MacLennan approved of no public comment for the September 2021 board meeting by citing two emails from Dr. MacLennan. On September 15, 2021 at 10:28 AM in an email to Shannon Goodrich, the board clerk and the president’s administrative assistant, and cc to the Board, MacLennan wrote: “For what its worth, I think not allowing public comment is a mistake---especially given the present public interest in NIC.”

On March 24, 2022 at 1:47 PM Dr. MacLennan wrote to Dr. Mike Sebaaly, NIC Interim President the following: “Unless contradictory evidence can be produced to show I recommended that no public comment to be allowed at the reference meeting, I respectfully request an immediate correction to the public record on this matter.”

SECOND: The NIC Board of Trustees several months ago contracted with the Pauly Group to assist in the national presidential search. We have it on good authority that Mr. Banducci has used stalling tactics to slow the presidential search. It has been six months since the firing of Dr. MacLennan. As we come close to the end of this academic year, it will be more difficult to recruit highly qualified candidates, as the most opportune months in this academic cycle have passed.

THIRD: It is clear that Trustees Banducci and McKenzie have blocked any opportunity for the NIC Board of Trustees to discuss or respond to the NWCCU Review Panel Report. We interpret this position as a lack of respect for the authority of the NWCCU and downplaying the significance of the college’s status regarding accreditation. Trustee Ken Howard put it best at this week’s board meeting when he called the inaction “shameful.”

FOURTH: Although we do not attempt to dispute NIC’s financial present general financial status, the NIC response seemed to downplay the recent Moody S. Ratings, Moody’s downgrading of NIC’s credit, and plus the tremendous loss of millions of dollars in revenue for the NIC Foundation. Furthermore, there are dark clouds on the horizon as pertains to financial gifts/donations and or student tuition/fees with a declining student enrollment if NIC does not change course.

FIFTH: When Chair Banducci complained of the release of his private email to the student discussing the deep state, the fact is we were able to acquire the email via a public information request due to the student receiving the email on his NIC student email account.

Finally, we are troubled that many pitfalls still exist that can cause irreparable damage to the integrity, core values and the accreditation standards for NIC. There are many warning signs in the present environment we have in our region.

Once again Dr. Ramaswamy, we express our deep appreciation for the serious consideration NWCCU has given our two complaints. It has been with a heavy heart that we have taken this course of action but we would be untrue to our mission of promoting human and civil rights and civil liberties by remaining silent to these serious violations at North Idaho College.

To view NIC’s response to the panel report: https://www.nic.edu/modules/images/websites/46/file/NWCCU/220401%20NIC%20Response%20to%20Peer%20Panel%20Report.pdf

To view the panel report: https://www.nic.edu/modules/images/websites/46/file/NWCCU/NIC%20Final%20Panel%20Report%20with%20Appendices%20and%20Cover.pdf

To view the final letter of action:

https://www.nic.edu/modules/images/websites/46/file/NWCCU/NIC%20Action%20Letter%20w%20Warning%202022%2004%2001%20rev.pdf

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McKenzie

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