Tuesday, July 23, 2024

NIC: Search obstruction alleged

Staff Writer | January 28, 2022 1:09 AM

North Idaho College Trustee Christie Wood wants the presidential search process to get moving.

That's not what she thinks the board chair wants at all.

Wood told The Press she believes board chair Todd Banducci and Trustee Greg McKenzie want to keep interim president Michael Sebaaly right where he is.

“Banducci and McKenzie made it clear at our December meeting they did not want to do a search and they want to keep our interim President in place,” Wood said in an email to The Press. “It’s quite obvious they are trying to get to the November election in hopes (Trustee Ken Howard and myself) won’t run again or retain our seats, and then they could vote to not do a search at all.”

At its Dec. 15 meeting, the board voted to direct the administration to sign a contract with an academic search consulting firm to begin the presidential search.

McKenzie voted against the motion and Banducci didn't vote as there was no tie.

“Since that time our current board chair has done everything in his power to stop it from proceeding,” Wood said in the email.

Both McKenzie and Banducci expressed interest in holding off on appointing a permanent president at the December meeting. McKenzie had motioned to wait until July 2023.

According to Wood, Banducci sent an email to the board on Dec. 16, demanding their legal counsel advise that the vote to begin the presidential search was invalid due to “what he called a breach of ethics on my part and of Trustee Howard,” Wood said.

“Of course none of that is true and it was made clear to him the vote was valid to continue,” Wood said.

A contract was signed with the Pauly Group, an academic search consulting firm, on Dec. 17.

Yet even though the search was authorized more than five weeks ago, no position has been posted and there has only been one meeting with the consultant firm and committee co-chairs Banducci and Howard. A second meeting is scheduled for today.

Howard said at the January board meeting there were complications scheduling today’s meeting due to Banducci’s availability.

Wood said Banducci claimed to be too busy to meet.

“When it was offered to meet on nights and weekends, (Banducci) refused and apparently claimed he is not paid for this job so he is not willing to give up any more free time,” Wood said.

Banducci and McKenzie spent Tuesday through Thursday in Boise for Higher Education Week at the Legislature.

“I think they are willing to give time if it’s something they want to do,” Wood said.

Banducci did not respond to a Press request for comment.

Wood said Banducci has been informed by their consultant that if the search is delayed into February, it would be extremely difficult to attract qualified candidates.

Howard said the consultant told him Banducci had called her and said he wanted the search slowed down until 2023.

The Pauly Group did not respond to a Press request for comment on Thursday.

Wood said Banducci had no authority to make a search delay request.

“I am convinced he is abusing his role as chairman to obstruct the search process,” Wood said.

Wood said last Thursday they exchanged four emails on the topic, which she described as “very pointed and definitely unfriendly in nature.”

At the board meeting on Jan. 19, Banducci said he could choose not to report on the presidential search when Wood asked for a status update.

“The board chair report is my report if I choose to report on something,” Banducci said at the meeting. “I chose not to report on something.”

McKenzie said the meeting was going late and the item was not on the agenda.

Wood requested an update again under Remarks for the Good of the Order. She said they should go ahead and have the clerk schedule the meetings even if only one co-chair could attend because of the urgency of the matter, after it was relayed the meeting had been detained because of Banducci’s availability.

Banducci said he didn’t think it was necessary.

“We’re working on it,” he said.

McKenzie interjected that part of the meeting was not to seek board action.

“Have a good day. Let’s go to bed,” McKenzie said.

Banducci adjourned the meeting without a vote, counter to Robert’s Rules of Order, which the board recently adopted.

“I stated clearly the search process will continue, and if he can’t make the meetings we don’t need him because we have another co-chair,” Wood said in an email to The Press. “Todd got angry and gaveled the meeting closed while I was speaking.”

At the meeting scheduled today to discuss the presidential search, Banducci, Howard and consultants are expected to go over qualifications for the president, as well as the salary range to be advertised.

So far Howard said they’ve been discussing the structure of the search committee, which will include a citizens' committee. He said he believes there will be various representatives from the community at large as well as from the college community, but that's yet to be decided.