Edison apologizing over nursing school scandal
Atkins: Students, faculty, other colleges misled over nursing accreditation
Edison offers apology to nursing students misled by program's accreditation. Video by fox4now.comvideo
FORT MYERS - Edison State College is apologizing and promising to make things right after Fox 4 discovered some of the school's nursing students were told the program was accredited - when it never was.
"I would like to say on behalf of the college," said Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Steve Atkins, "I am so sorry this happened."
Fox 4 discovered Edison's bachelor of science in nursing program was never accredited even though students were led to believe otherwise.
"It is very concerning because if I graduate and can't get into a master's program," said BSN nursing student Jean Drake on her first day back to school, "I don't have the money to go back and redo this program."
A former student, Ashley Blakely, who spoke to us via Skype last weekend, told us she is being rejected from several graduate programs because they won't recognize Edison's nursing school.
"It took an enormous amount of invested time to work to succeed in this program," said Ashley Blakely. "And it's all wasted."
Atkins confirms the nursing school's lack of accreditation will hurt students applying to grad schools in or out of state.
"Is this fair to students who are paying their hard earned money to come to this school?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"It's not fair no ," said Atkins. "And we're doing everything we can to remedy a huge mistake...it's not acceptable, absolutely not."
To be clear, accreditation isn't mandatory. But Atkins says students, faculty and even other colleges were led to believe the program was accredited by a former director and administrator. One is now retired, the other is on leave, Atkins said.
"They told them the college was in candidacy status with the National League for Nursing," said Atkins. "[And that] students would have no problems matriculating or being accepted into master's level programs."
So why was that allowed to happen?
"I'm not sure why they were saying things that weren't true," said Atkins. "I really don't have a good answer."
Atkins says the BSN program is now track to be accredited by next spring. But it won't be retroactive for students who already graduated.
"I would say to those students that have graduated," said Atkins, "we're going to do everything we can to assist the students into matriculating into graduate programs."
The college has already sent out letters and will advocate on behalf of students trying to get into graduate programs, Atkins said. The college will also help students who want to transfer to an accredited nursing program.
"Again," he said, "it's a mistake that we consider absolutely inexcusable."
Blakley says she is planning to sue the college. Atkins says he is worried about the possibility of a class action lawsuit because of all this.
MATT GRANT, REPORTER