Administrator: The dismissal of the president could work against you



HEART OF ALENE – An email between administrators at North Idaho College could explain why President Rick MacLennan was not fired, as expected, last month.

According to emails obtained through public inquiries and direct contacts, board members could be at personal financial risk if they fire the college president without a legitimate reason.

Trustee Christie Wood said she believes the “reckless” actions of board chairman Todd Banducci regarding MacLennan’s contract could have consequences not only for the college, but also for board members. administration.

“I have believed for some time that Administrator Banducci’s actions have put the college at risk of litigation,” Wood wrote in an email to The Press Tuesday. “Trustees can also be sued personally. “

MacLennan’s contract renewal action has been on the meeting’s agenda since August 4, tabled at that meeting as well as August 26 and 31.

The case is again postponed until Wednesday, at the earliest, the next meeting of the board of directors.

In an Aug. 27 email to the board, Wood wrote that she believed Banducci, the board chairman, intended to take action to remove MacLennan.

Wood asked the board to meet with the college’s insurance company, the Idaho County Risk Management Program – ICRMP – for consultation before taking action.

In an August 30 email to Banducci and the board, Wood wrote that lawyers for the ICRMP said Banducci had personally rejected the organization’s offer to advise the board on the president’s contract.

“As a result of your reckless actions, board members could most likely face personal financial risk as well as asset risk for the institution,” Wood wrote in the same email. “It’s outrageous that you reject legal advice (on behalf of the board!) From our insurer and our own college lawyer. “

In a second email on August 30, Wood said Banducci turned down the ICRMP’s offer to meet with the board to discuss the president’s contract – which Banducci refuted.

“You are incorrect in your assertion / fact,” Banducci replied in an email.

Scott Olbham, claims manager at ICRMP, told The Press that board members may be personally responsible financially when ICRMP has paid.

“There could be cases,” Olbham said. “ICRMP does not cover all eventualities.

Olbham said each case is individually compared to the policy and the determination of coverage is made based on the allegations made in that individual lawsuit.

“If there is an unwarranted discharge and President McLennan is successful, then the ICRIMP will have to pay the judgment in most circumstances,” said Administrator Ken Howard. “There are a few circumstances where the Trustees themselves may have to pay, but most of the circumstances are where ICRIMP should pay.”

Other consequences exist for a possible MacLennan lawsuit against NIC for wrongful termination, according to Wood.

“Our insurance provider has a long-standing request to discuss with them any potential risk of litigation before any negative action is taken,” Wood wrote in an email to the board on Aug. 27. “If we act with reckless disregard it puts a financial burden on the ICRMP, they will likely drop our coverage.

Howard said he was also concerned about the possible consequences of the ICRMP if they were to pay.

“I am not in favor of impeaching the president,” Howard said. “I see no reason to do it.”

Howard said he thought MacLennan’s dismissal would be a bad decision because he did a good job leading the college and finding a new president would be a challenge.

“It doesn’t make sense to me, but we’ll have to see what happens with the other three (directors),” Howard said.

NIC faculty and staff passed a joint resolution in favor of MacLennan on August 26, calling him “a champion of educational opportunities and an ambassador for entrepreneurship in northern Idaho.”

The resolution called on the board of directors to renew the president’s contract.

According to the employment contract with MacLennan, if a majority of the board decides to fire the president without cause, NIC agrees to pay the president 12 months salary and benefits or the remainder of the term of the contract, whichever is less. of them. MacLennan has about a year and a half left on his contract.

His annual base salary is $ 218,325.

The contract also specifies what would constitute dismissal for cause.

According to Article 9.4, “The Agreement may be terminated for cause if a majority of the Council, in its sole discretion, determines that: (1) the President has failed or refused to act in accordance with an important provision of this Agreement or any direction or order of the Commission; (2) the president has shown serious or dishonest misconduct in connection with his employment; (3) the President is (or has been) convicted of a crime involving dishonesty, breach of trust or physical or emotional harm to any person; (4) the president is unable to perform the essential functions of the position; or (5) the President has acted in bad faith to the detriment of the NIC. “

In an August 30 email to Banducci and the board, Wood said the ICRMP told him directly that the only thing problematic for the board was the president’s actions.

The press tried six times in four days to reach Banducci for comment. He did not answer. Trustees Greg McKenzie and Michael Barnes also did not respond to comments.

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