Republican activists took over a college in the Idaho panhandle and have driven it into the ground.
Trustees backed by the Kootenai County GOP took over the governing majority of North Idaho College and denounced alleged liberal "indoctrination" by the faculty and vowed to root out "deep state" corruption in the school administration, but their leadership resulted in lawsuits from two of the past five school presidents and Moody's downgraded their debt over “significant governance and management dysfunction," reported the New York Times.
“As a businessperson here, it’s heartbreaking to me to be standing on the brink of the loss of this institution,” said Eve Knudtsen, a Republican who owns a Chevrolet dealership outside of Couer d'Alene.
The regional higher education commission warned the 90-year-old college known for its technical training programs could be stripped of its accreditation if changes weren't made within weeks, which would effectively shut down the community college attended by about 4,600 students.
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Conservative retirees from other states have flocked to the county, where Donald Trump won 70 percent of the vote in 2020, and GOP activists set their sights on the college after its diversity council issued a statement of support for social justice demonstrations after the police killing of George Floyd.
“The mission of the Republican Party in Kootenai County is to try to find people who will run for office — any office, from sewer districts to school boards to trustee boards — who embrace the policies of the Republican Party as outlined in our platform,” said Brent Regan, chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.
Two GOP-backed candidates won positions on the five-member board of trustees, where they joined conservative incumbent Todd Banducci, who former college president Rick MacLennan says scolded him over his wife's support for Hillary Clinton.
“My perspective was, you can’t do that,” MacLennan said. “It’s not going to work like that.”
MacLennan, who settled a lawsuit last year with the college after he was fired by the trustees, said the school was a warning to other institutions facing partisan attacks and hostile takeovers by Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republican leaders, and the school's supporters are angry with the board of trustees.
“It’s pretty much a dystopian farce,” said Kathleen Miller Green, an assistant professor of child development. “It’s laughable if you don’t have to live it.”