Investigation clears Edison State College of 'racial' hiring practices

Race was not a factor in recent hiring practices at Edison State College, according to the results of a five-month investigation by a Fort Myers law firm.

The Board of Trustees heard the results from Henderson Franklin’s 48-page report, including 28 witness statements, at Tuesday’s meeting.

“This confirms what I’ve believed from the beginning,” said President Kenneth Walker.

The law firm investigated hiring for three positions, dean of the school of nursing, dean for the Hendry/Glades center and director of financial aid.

Trustees approved an $85,000 settlement Aug. 5 after a candidate for the position of dean at the nursing school filed a racial discrimination suit. Edison officials maintained they offered Dr. Vivian Lilly the position and denied allegation of race discrimination.

In regards to Lilly’s position, the study stated that: “There are disputed statements and documents which if proven and accepted could support a reasonable cause belief that race was a motivating factor in the delayed offer to Dr. Lilly. There is also a proffered, nondiscriminatory reason for the delay.”

Edison’s Attorney, Mark Lupe, said both Edison and Lilly’s current college had weeklong spring breaks during separate weeks, which accounted for a delay in offering the position.

Lupe said the settlement was made to save the college expenses related to the cost of litigation.

Edison will pay only $20,000 of the settlement. The rest will be covered by the college’s insurance.

The settlement also requires Edison to alter its organizational structure to promote “equity on its campus.”

The school must keep an “equity officer” to oversee equal employment opportunities on campus.

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