TALLAHASSEE — An incredulous Senate committee blasted Edison State College officials on multiple fronts Thursday over an apparent course-swapping administrator and an oversight that led to a lack of national accreditation of the college's baccalaureate degree in nursing.
During nearly an hour of sometimes blistering questioning, members of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Higher Education asked Edison's General Counsel Mark Lupe and interim Dean Mary Myers to respond to the incidents that one member said caused "a stain" to the college's reputation.
Not included in the printed agenda, the pair was brought before the committee for questioning. Committee members asked why the Edison board of trustees renewed a contract with Dennette Foy, an associate dean of business and technical studies, seven months after suspecting that core and elective courses were being swapped for approved classes. They also questioned why she remains on paid administrative leave.
"This is one of the issues that taxpayers are concerned about," said Sen. John Thrasher, R. St. Augustine. "I think that is absurd. If you think it's the right thing to do, get rid of her. This is causing a stain on your college."
In July, Edison President Kenneth Walker suspended business and technical studies dean Bill Roshon for his role in a course swapping scandal that allowed 50 to 70 students to graduate without meeting basic requirements for their major. Another 65 are still in the program and are being required to complete the approved set of core courses and electives at the college's expense.
Roshon was later reinstated as interim dean of the Hendry/Glades Center in LaBelle. Roshon was dean of business and technical studies at the college when he was suspended with pay last month.
Foy also was suspended but remains on paid administrative leave. Her salary is $72,000 a year, Myers told the committee.
Myers said the issue has been dealt with and does not reflect the overall performance of the college. An audit conducted of other accredited programs showed no similar pattern.
"I would like to say, after having been at the institution for 15 years, not to let the rogue actions of one individual tarnish what a really good school is," Myers told committee members
The questioning got no easier when the topic turned to nursing. Edison has had a bachelor of science in nursing since 2009. Since then, more than 100 students who graduated from program were incorrectly informed that it was accredited with the National League of Nursing.
Committee Chairwoman Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, said the lapse in accreditation should have been discovered much earlier.
"The length of time that this has gone on is unbelievable," Lynn said.
The panel said it plans to ask Edison President Kenneth Walker to address them at a future meeting to address what some members said appears to be a lack of administrative oversight.
"This goes to institutional control," said Thrasher, a former chairman of the Florida State University Board of Trustees. "There are taxpayers dollars at risk here."