Edison official claims retaliation after being asked to resign
Edison official claims retaliation after asked to resign Video by fox4now.comvideo
FORT MYERS - Shake up at Edison! A Vice President that's been very vocal about major problems within the school is on the chopping block tonight. Steve Atkins has been Edison's Vice President of Academic Affairs for the past four years but now the college president wants him out.
Today college president Ken Walker asked Atkins to resign but Atkins refused. He was then placed on administrative leave until the board can decide whether to terminate him. When Atkins was ordered to leave the campus today, his colleagues were shocked. Faculty Chair Ellie bunting says, "I think the faculty are really surprised and upset because Dr. Atkins was really the person we depended on to get the academic unit running and keep it running."
We decided to go to President Ken Walker's office ourselves to get his side of the story but instead of letting us speak with Walker, his secretary refused and proceeded to call in three armed guards. That’s when we left. Soon after we received a letter Walker wrote to Atkins, detailing reasons for his termination.
In the letter Walker accuses Atkins of the following:
• Failing to inform him that Atkins received an email in August of 2009 about the course substitutions.
• In July of this year Walker says Atkins sent an email to SACS without Walker's knowledge, the email alleged information about the course substitution issue which has questionable validity.
• In September, Walker says Atkins gave SACS additional information about problems with the nursing program accreditation issue without informing him.
Atkins attorney, Pat Geraghty, says Walker is simply lying, "He wanted to get Dr. Atkins for bringing all this about, for being truthful and honest."
Geraghty says this is all about retaliation because Atkins testified and supported Doctor Vivian Lily when she successfully sued the college for discrimination this year. In fact, Atkins sent an email to Edison's human resources department this past weekend. In it he writes: "Dr. Walker has created a situation that I can only characterize as intimidating, hostile, and abusive. I intend to file a grievance with the college and a formal complaint with EEOC."
Geraghty says this is clearly retaliation, "Dr. Atkins is a valued employee and has done nothing to warrant this as a matter of fact he did everything to benefit the college.”
Atkins attorney plans to file lawsuits against Edison and Doctor Walker. Meanwhile, SACS will visit Edison State College next month to discuss accreditation issues.