Tuesday, February 27, 2024

My Turn: Trustee addresses violence at NIC

| March 15, 2022 1:06 AM

I think it's important to respond to the March 11 letter to the editor by Lagonda McDonald because other people have asked me the same question: Why did I not file a police report against fellow NIC trustee Todd Banducci when he threatened to harm me? I will address that, but first I will address his physical assault of an NIC female employee.

I feel especially bad for our employee and all she has endured. Her name has been protected, but I know the original incident and the ensuing public discussion has been difficult for her every day. I want to make it very clear since Lagonda likes to capitalize and emphasize her criticism in her statements toward me that our employee DID THE RIGHT THING.

She was physically assaulted by Trustee Banducci, who towers over her at twice her size. It shook her to her core. I know this because I was in the interview with her and watched her physically shaking as she described it.

The day after the assault in December of 2019, she wrote him an email and copied her supervisors, making it clear he was never to touch her again. Then she filed a formal complaint that was investigated on behalf of our previous Board of Trustees.

In 2020, the board determined the incident had occurred and wrote Trustee Banducci a letter of censure. He signed a settlement agreement shortly after that with our employee, in which he agreed to never be near her again. He has never publicly denied he signed this settlement agreement. There is no time or space in which a trustee should physically assault an employee.

The decision to file a police report or not is a personal one that victims of crime have to determine every day. In my case I was a police sergeant at the time Banducci's threat occurred.

I had spent a professional career helping others. During that time, I had taken a few punches from suspects while effecting an arrest. One time I did try to charge a suspect for giving me a shiner, but was told by a city attorney he would not pursue it because taking a punch was part of my job. As I got older and wiser, I came to understand physical harm can be an effect of the job — but it's still a crime.

In the case of Banducci, I stayed silent in the interest of harmony on our board. But I must say, I made the wrong decision, Lagonda. Had I filed a report, maybe the abuse would have stopped with me. I have deep remorse for what happened to our long-serving employee. She did not deserve it and it cannot be condoned by a civilized society.

Many people know and like Todd Banducci, since he is a long-time community member with a family, church affiliation and has served his country. I don't take any of that away from him. There have been plenty of times Todd and I have been able to work together in the best interest of the college. Unfortunately, he no longer has the best interest of the college in mind and his past transgressions are not something that can be set aside.

The ongoing issues at NIC have been investigated by the NWCCU independent commission and are documented for anyone who would like to review the facts. The college has been found out of compliance with accreditation standards in numerous areas due to the actions of the majority of the board, with specific wrongful actions of Chairman Banducci. I reiterate my earlier statement that he must resign in order for NIC to find a path forward.

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Christie Wood is a member of the NIC Board of Trustees.