School district official speaks about 'alcohol' investigation
Superintendent suspended investigation into top Director
LEE COUNTY - For the first time we're hearing from the Lee County school official accused of being drunk on the job. Deedara Hicks was investigated by the district after witnesses say she came to work apparently intoxicated but the investigation was abruptly suspended by the Superintendent which lead to even more questions. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason spoke with Hicks today and has her side of the story.
Hicks says she wasn't drunk and claims most of the witness statements are lies. So with her attorney by her side she's now trying to set the record straight.
I met Deedara Hicks at her attorney's office in Fort Myers. We were told our cameras were not allowed inside and we couldn't record any audio. So I asked the questions and took notes. Hicks agreed to address allegations she apparently showed up to work drunk on August 10, 2011. Witnesses say Hicks had difficulty walking, staying awake, she smelled like alcohol and even passed out in her car.
Hicks told us, "I refute all allegations regarding alcohol."
Superintendent Joseph Burke was there that day and decided not to have Hicks tested to see if she was under the influence. Burke says Hicks wasn't drunk, instead she was having a reaction from a past surgery she had for a gastric bypass. Burke admits he had no proof of her medical condition at the time but is confident she doesn't have an alcohol problem.
Dr. Joseph Burke: "There is no alcohol involvement in Dr. Hicks' life right now at all."
Mike Mason: "Not right now."
Dr. Joseph Burke: "No, well not that I know of at any time."
When I asked Hicks if she may have been drinking the night before, she replied: "Not that I can recall."
When asked if she had been drinking in the days leading up to August 10th, she said: "I was not drunk. I was not tested. I have a major medical problem. I don't remember and I can't recall that. I have been on a lot of medications, I'm on a lot of pain medicine."
Hicks refused to elaborate on what medications she's taking or if they may have affected her behavior that day. When the district launched an investigation into the incident 5 months later, the Director of Professional Standards stated: "I was contacted by her (Hicks') daughter who informed me about past history which included information about alcoholism."
Hicks told me: "My daughter did not say that", claiming those statements are flat out "lies".
To be fair, the state has already investigated Doctor Hicks and no disciplinary action was ever taken. Hicks also showed us her letters of commendation and this award she received in 2011 from a sorority.
Hicks says she just wants to move on with her life and continue her role at the Lee County School District. As for Burke, state investigators will soon decide whether to investigate his decision to suspend the Hicks investigation.