The MAGA-fication of North Idaho College

“They were in the process of dismantling the institution,” said Tony Stewart, the secretary of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, which drafted the complaint.

Mr. Regan argued that Mr. Stewart’s organization, which formed in the 1980s to combat white supremacists who were active in Kootenai County, had strayed far from its mission.

“Were there human rights violations going on?” he said. “No.” He called the accreditation review a “political” process, “started by people who didn’t like the results of the election.”

Mr. Banducci’s bloc of trustees eventually fired Mr. MacLennan without cause, installing the school’s wrestling coach as interim president. A power struggle ensued, with the state education board at one point appointing several interim trustees who hired a new president. In the November 2022 election, candidates backed by the G.O.P. committee once again claimed a majority and replaced him, too.

The turnover has been cited by the accreditation body, along with several votes of no confidence in the trustees from the college faculty and student government, as a source of its concern. Sonny Ramaswamy, the commission president, declined to discuss the accreditation review, citing discussions with the school.

In November, Greg McKenzie, the current board chair, dismissed the prospect of losing accreditation as “Fake News” in a letter to constituents.

But at the February meeting, as that loss suddenly seemed like a very real possibility, the trustees appeared somewhat chastened. Mr. McKenzie reminded the crowd that members of the accrediting commission were watching via livestream and asked attendees to help avoid the circuslike atmosphere of recent meetings. In January, Vincent James Foxx, a far-right antisemitic podcaster who lives in Kootenai County, took the microphone to offer the bloc of trustees his “100 percent support.” A December meeting was interrupted twice by fire alarms.

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